Life and Art in Lockdown

Domesticity and Dusters

Early on in lockdown Vanessa Marr invited me to contribute to the new lockdown version of her wonderful Women and Domesticity project.  You stitch your thoughts about both on to a classic yellow duster.  Lockdown has had such a huge effect on our habits and lifestyle (if style’s the word).  We’ve faced the sort of fear and uncertainty our ancestors took for granted.  We’ve had to adapt and improvise around work, family and other obligations.  But the underlying ‘domestic’ issues remain, often exacerbated by enforced proximity.  

A tea and coffee disaster

But there are smaller issues too. I had a disaster early on, when the shops were running out of basic foodstuffs. I poured a lovely new pack of tea-leaves straight into…the coffee canister.  It wasn’t our usual brand – the pack looked just like the standard shiny coffee bags.  I was in a rush. (I know, excuses….)

What have I created??

Tee? Or Coffea?

Well, our total tea AND coffee supplies down the drain!  Except…I couldn’t just throw it away.  I remembered the duster.  I experimented by pouring some of the tea/coffee mixture on to it, followed by boiling water.  And, what did it look like when it dried?  That day’s Guardian pic of the Coronavirus!  Result:  further experiments on cotton and on handmade paper.  This one, World in Lockdown, uses my paper, bits of reclaimed wood and…tea and coffee.   A much bigger one is in progress.

World in Lockdown

Black Lives Matter

Instagram has been, to my surprise, a source of inspiration and pleasure.   It has brought new friends and reinforced old friendships.  That’s how I see Geraldine Guest’s beautiful gardens (both in southern Spain and in England) and plants, and curated art posts.  Jane Porter, writer and illustrator, kindly sent me her beautiful linoprint poster Black Lives Matter, to display in my already crowded window. An honour to do so.

Black Lives Matter

The Boy Who Loved Everyone

And Jane’s children’s book The Boy Who Loved Everyone has just been shortlisted for the @littlerebelsaward  – celebrating ‘books which challenge stereotypes, promote social justice and advocate for a more peaceful world’.  Her new non-fiction book So you Want To Be An Owl will very soon be out.  And her you-tube channel LINK is full of delightful things to make with your family.  Armadillo? Elephant? Surprise box, anyone?

The Boy Who Loved Everyone

Magic Bubbles

Bubbles are NOW.  We’re all in our bubbles.  My friend Carolyn had the inspired idea of giving her friends a kit for making those mammoth bubbles for her (her) birthday.  We had huge fun. Our young neighbour Louise helped. It’s surprisingly poignant – they’re so beautiful, so fragile – and so transient. You gasp as they grow and grow, you wait anxiously for them to pop – and they’re gone.

Bubbles in our Lane

The Schoolhouse Gallery in York has had the brilliant idea of inviting artists to submit images (in whatever form) of their ideas of home.   It’s an Arts Council project, funded by the National Lottery.  I contributed some of the bubble pics – do have a look at this growing collection and maybe contribute to it.  It’s a touching and intimate record of these extraordinary times. LINK

Artists’ Support Pledge

Artists’ Support Pledge

Recently, artist  Matthew Burrows devised a remarkably successful initiative to help artists through these difficult times: the #artistsupportpledge. Because of COVID, artists have found it hard to continue work and to sell their art. Matthew’s idea: You post images of your work to sell for no more than £200 each (not including shipping.) Anyone can then buy the work. Every time you reach £1000 of sales you pledge to buy another artist/s work for £200.  Everyone wins.  It’s worked for me (thank you, dear buyers). I’m just about to receive a wonderful piece by Annamarie Dzendrowskj! Why not have a look round and see if there’s something you fancy on offer from one of your favourite artists?

Art in the Window (sold!)

Open Windows

Another delightful thing has been Openwindows2020, which began in Brighton.  Artists have been displaying artwork in their own windows, giving passers-by something colourful and interesting to look at. Originally in lieu of the cancelled Artists’ Open House/Open Studios, it has spread throughout the country; our local version is OpenwindowsYork2020.  It’s a bit of a challenge to change the display regularly; my neighbour Julia keeps me up to the mark!

The Wolf and the Window

Art on the Underground

A big excitement: another of my paintings is now on display in poster form on the London Underground, as part of Art Below’s summer show, curated by Ben Moore.  Here’s a pic – so sad I won’t see the original. (I have an auto-immune problem so have to play safe.)

Seaside Past – on the Underground

When were you last on a train?

It’s at Hyde Park Corner, just suppose you’re passing through. If not, we’ll all have to make do with the pics. How long is it since I was on a train? I can’t even remember!

Evening, Haven: handmade paper, pigments, gold/siver leaf

Strange Times

As part of the same show, a new painting of Cuckmere Haven in Sussex (with those threatened iconic curves) is on display – and sale – from today at the Ad-Lib Gallery LINK in Fulham. Every Day’s a Miracle – a pretty good title for the times. The pictures of the Private View looked amazing. (Sigh.)

Every Day’s a Miracle – exhibition now on

Kielder to London

The last painting that appeared in this way (at Regent’s Park Station) is in the process of being sold.  The marvels of online art sales! A big thank you to the Nicholas Bowlby Gallery which showed it at the Affordable Art Fair.  A complicated procedure of liberating it from the wonderful but remote Kielder Observatory in the Dark Sky Park in Northumberland. It’s going to London later this week.

Exhibition in Lockdown: Kielder Observatory

It’s been in lockdown at Keilder since it was installed as part of their very first art exhibition. So many thanks to Natasha who organised the show – which sadly has never seen the light of either day or night.

Night Sky 1066

Night Sky 1066 at the Affordable Art Fair

the noes and yesses of lockdown life:
NO… hardly seeing family and friends. Difficulty with sitting down to read a book; with making large confident paintings; with making big decisions.  Cabin fever.  Zero visits to seaside and country.  The health of our car (lockdown heaven for pigeons).

The birds are enjoying life

Involuntary Art (otherwise, Our Car Windscreen)

YES: Gardening, making sourdough crackers, painting furniture, seizing the moment.  Help between neighbours. Eating like kings with ingenuity and improvisation. And a wonderful birthday recently – first family meet-up for months.  Let’s all hope for better times soon. And I just hope we don’t all end up like this! The cats and dogs are having a mighty fine time though….

And so are the cats and dogs

Life in Lockdown