As I am writing this article, I should be in Bali with my mum. This trip was originally booked for September 2019 but it had to be postponed to March 2020. Now it’s postponed (once again!) to next October, to coincide with my Mum’s 60th birthday.
I felt sad and angry about the whole Covid-19 situation because of all the uncertainty and anxiety it brought along. We are so used to living our normal lives and no one can ever be ready for such a big change in our lives. Yet, we adapt. And I feel lucky. Lucky because my loved ones are safe. Lucky for technology to be so advanced, for that good WiFi connection that allows us to keep in touch with our loved ones through calls and web cams.
At first, I could not make art anymore, because I was so stressed and I was having nightmares every night. Then, after two days of staying at home, I thought that drawing could only help me escape this craziness. I turned off my phone, I turned off the news and I took some paper and my watercolour palette out. It felt good. My first drawing was all blue, which I had never done before, and gradually, vivid colours appeared again.
I sit on my kitchen table where I have lovely sunlight coming through directly on me and I listen to music. I have also been working on my web-folio, since we have been told that it will now be 100% of our mark for our final assessment. But that’s OK, since I can do it from home.
I would like to take this rare opportunity to share artworks that my classmates have been doing from their home over the past week. I love the variety of the work and how they remain positive throughout these worrying times.
I started a visual diary on the 17th, the first day of social distancing and « suppression measures » for COVD-19 here in London. At a time of great uncertainty and potential anxiety, marking each day with a drawing summarizing the good, the bad, and the mundane has been really helpful.
You can follow his daily drawings on Instagram: junkiemonkeyart
During the MFA I mostly have worked at home even before the lock down, unless I've needed help from a technician. I work all over the house! The kitchen table, the kitchen floor, the room I call my studio that gets too full of materials for actual making, the middle room, the back decking, in the garden. My bedroom tends to be full of bits of sewing and sketch books.
The little pieces in the picture I made in my bedroom with tiny shells and metallic threads. The idea originated in Margate where I picked up oyster shells on the beach, then modelled them in clay. Collections of shells around the house add variety. As usual my research is about humans and animals and recently I have been thinking of things to do with the sea. One or more hermit crabs for the Final Show, possibly squishy but I have not yet finally decided on materials.
David Attenborough has a video of hermit crabs lining up in an orderly queue to swap shells. Maybe I need to situate them at a bus stop!
And just to be clear, the colourful pieces in the embroidery ring is my bit of a collaborative project with Professor Lucy Orta. Doing that has been a long haul, but I've nearly finished.
As far as the virus and the lock down are concerned I'm fine. I'm getting fit by running for half hour in the morning (started at 10 minutes and built up over the last week) - then trying to settle down to work.
Over 30 years ago I sat in a board meeting enjoying the most comfortable chair I’d ever sat in. I enquired of David Forrester, Facilities Manager at Saatchi & Saatchi, and he told me these ‘Boss’ chairs were the result of years of searching for the best looking, most comfortable, and people-proof ones. I bought a pair for us to have in our studies at home. If you amortise the cost over the period, they’ve been great value for money. More importantly I can sit happily at work for hours. Most of my art and writing has been done while in this chair. Yes, the fabrication often occurs in bigger spaces, but this is where the concepts are created. I’m working on the theme of ‘attrition’ and creating a series of photo collages with sandpaper to explore it. This one celebrates my chair and it’s called ‘Studio’. The creases in the leather are like the furrows in my brow, caused by millions of thoughts and ideas. Hopefully this self-isolation will add some more...
This is me in my current practice at home. As my children are home schooling and needing PCs, I'm focusing on painting whilst trying not to get any paint on our furniture! It took me a few days to think how I could adapt my practice, but now I feel a lot more clarity and how my original themes are compatible with what we are experiencing in covid crisis. I have taken Polaroid pictures double exposed of me touching my face. I realise it's now forbidden but also the comfort it gives me in times of stress... Much like prayer beads in my previous work. My kids finish home schooling today (27/03) for their Easter break which should bring new challenges but also allow me more time to work on my web-folio.
I am exploring the many layers that gives a person their identity. Where and how we are brought up; our family, our friends, and where we travel to, or come from in the world and the passage of time all unveil the mysteries of who we become.
This current work is about nature and nurture, pieced fabric to represent the layers and quilting as metaphor for nurture; blanketing the new life and keeping it safe. DNA to symbolises birth and development, the next generation, the next member of a family, hope for the future. There is still a great deal to do as each of the three quilts are three meters long. I’m about to finish the second and the third I’m having help on which is great but still I need to check in with my assistants from time to time. All running parallel with another quilt just ready to be sent to the long arm quilter and my web-folio, I’m not bored!
Adapting to changing situations is a skill and one that an artist has to have up her sleeve nowadays. This situation is no diﬀerent to many artists normal reality, they can’t aﬀord a studio so they have to adapt their homes into a working space. This is what I’ve done during these hectic times, I have taken a corner of my boyfriend’s living room, because his house has wooden ﬂoors and mine is carpeted (easier to clean, trust me). This works ﬁne for my practice because I am a painter who focuses on the subject of relationships between humans and the shifts that occur when normality in our lives changes, aﬀecting our personality. We adapt, as humans, and that is relatable to what we're facing now. We are lucky we have health, we are lucky we are together in diﬃcult times, all the rest is just adaptation, throughout time. I am extremely lucky that my boyfriend let me use his space, painting for me can be done anywhere as long as I can still shut my mind and let the focus drive me. And of course, not all is bad, painting so close to the kitchen has its perks: ﬁnishing studio work with a cake baking in the oven is a nice incentive. Motivation has never been so up!
During quarantine in Thailand, I made a small sculpture from ceramic clay. This sculpture is called ‘Nang Kwak’ which is a spirit or household divinity of Thai folklore. I am spending most of my time at home so I can make plenty of them. So far, I have made about 9 of them and plan to keep making them.
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