Many of the wonderful artists in our collective are using this time of isolation to concentrate on their art, be it painting, drawing, photography or ceramics.
As artists we are used to isolation. We often create in our studios away from the public gaze. But that doesn’t mean we don’t crave contact with art lovers, our commissioners, our students for those of us who teach – and other artists.
During this difficult period we have been meeting on Zoom – a virtual conferencing platform many of us had never heard of before. And, though that, we have been offering camaraderie – and discovering what each other has been up to.
There are those engaged in projects to thank our caring and committed frontline NHS workers and others who are hoping the meditative and reflective quality of their work will help bring peace to those feeling stressed by these extraordinary times.
Portrait Artist Stella Tooth, has set aside her commissions and performer portraits for a couple of weeks to take part in an initiative which is connecting artists around the world. #portraitsfornhsheroes is a project started by #tomcroftartist to honour our normally unsung heath workers with a free portrait. Stella was paired with Helen Chiverton, a paramedic who responds in an ambulance to 999 calls in London.
Helen sent Stella a selfie to work from and told her, “I love it because my patients can be newborn (or in some cases being born!) all the way to the very elderly… and you always have to be on your toes because things can change so quickly and are sometimes not quite what they seem. At the moment we… are finding that everything has changed and is constantly changing as more is learned about this virus. The PPE we are wearing with patients can complicate things, for example by making it much harder to communicate with people, but I am so grateful for it. We are working with firefighters as well at the moment who are supporting us on the ambulances which is brilliant and the AA are also working with us as well as so many other companies and community groups and individuals, we notice them all and are so thankful for them, it makes such a difference!“
HelenTrevisolDuff has also been doing her bit to support the NHS. She has set aside her painting of her favourite London buildings such as Liberties for the time being to be a part of the Ealing Scrub Hub, making scrubs for NHS key workers.
Sarita Keeler started and finished this piece during lockdown. Sarita has taken a slower approach, continuing to examine her feelings and outlook during the pandemic. She aimed to translate a sense of isolation, yet not of loneliness. While she’s found working with a sombre aesthetic therapeutic, she wanted to avoid creating something melancholy. She painted this image of a house hidden away on an empty landscape, tying in warmth through highlights along the horizon and dashes of white amongst the sky, like sun shining through clouds.
Although it is a lone house on a hill, she feels a home is a symbol of safety and comfort, and is very grateful to have one to isolate in at this time.
We may feel set apart, but this is a time to enjoy inwardness, hibernation, growth and reflection, and we know we are not alone in this.
For Gill Hickman, the inspiring Director of the Skylark Galleries art collective who has been at its helm for nearly 20 years, Covid-19 has taken her back to 2014 when this peaceful piece “Magnificent Cell” was made in acrylic mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 60 x 60 cm.
Having faced a different life threatening virus way back in the 1980’s, Gill said, “I discovered the power of meditation to calm my mind when fear and panic threatened to overwhelm me. By focusing on my breath or on the present moment I found a calm place inside. In this painting I have tried to convey that sense of calm.“