In the first lockdown there was a scramble. Plans were annihilated, everything needed to be rethought. We reached out, we were written to, we gathered, we looked at each other, fumbled with new apps, shrugged, laughed, found the sound controls. We compared notes, ideas, and worries. We felt intensely human, and that was okay. We didn’t need to perform, We didn’t need to reach deep to find character. All was revealed. All was on the surface.
Now, we already have contingency plans, or something. There isn’t shock. We aren’t connecting to find a way together. We are muddling on. We are making choices, choosing who to reach out to, if and when to call. Impulses are dulled, relatively speaking. We are weary. Or I am weary, and I imagine you are too. The shock has made way for boredom. Inspiration and responsiveness has faded to choicemaking. How do I want live in this new world? Who will I be in this new space? Routines are emerging, whether or not I wittingly made a choice. Wake, look at phone, wee, take the dog out, eat breakfast, plod to the computer.
Monday I made a conscious choice, I started the day drawing. I planned for it. What would I draw I wondered on Sunday night. Anything I lectured myself. Just create. Make, Do, Feel: the living room, my breakfast, the clutter on my desk. No. When I listened to my impulses I knew I wanted to draw something living, or representing life. In Lockdown before, I focused on unfurling ferns. Yes, That. It’s a start.
Another artist friend reached out in the first lockdown. She sent me homemade walnut ink. I’ve been grieving that I failed in my aim to collect unhulled walnuts freshly fallen from a tree this September. My primary source had already hulled her windfall when I went to visit. We had a gorgeous conversation though, and I discovered her history in stitching, and the amazing tapestry representing her mothers life and her ancestral home that hangs in pride of place in her sitting room, looking out at the giant walnut tree in this, her final home. I owe her an update on my walnut dye experiments and intentions. First though, I must nurture my creative self.
I returned to ferns. The offcuts and rejects of my original project have become the fodder for my second. I have made a number of wallhangings, themselves an evolution of an impulse, a sort of prayer flag installation, honouring earth, nature, and the lessons they offer when we look closely, observe and reflect. These have used hapa-zome prints of fern, fabric simmered in dye made from ferns, and the onion skins from lockdown. I still have other rejects,computer manipulated photos of ferns printed to fabric, an almost colourless hapazome fern, all water and fern juice, but little colour. I have shadow drawings.
So, I started this week sketching, drawing, and mark making – leaning further in to the metaphor of the fern unfurling. Reaccepting the rejected prints, using them as source material, exploring the shape making, washing the negative space with walnut ink, repeating the most important, defining marks with a brushstroke.
I’ve been reading the Creative Ageing report– or, being honest, skimming it. Where I took pause, a poem, by Panja Banjoko, commissioned by City Arts, called Pause – informed by the contributions from older people.
Finding the feeling or tone of the moment makes powerful art. It isn’t necessarily about realism, or surrealism, impressionism or any other -ism, its about conveying others into an understanding and connectedness they maybe didn’t have before, and maybe helping positive, helpful change along.
My drawings to open my week got me through a day or two, but.
The acts and actions of my work, my creativity, want to support and encourage others, it doesn’t work for these to ‘lockdown.’ So, I’ve decided to share my reflections with you. I plod on, but I also, more than ever recommit to the creative in my life, and the communicating across and with my community.
Connectedness matters, purpose and inspiration matters, creativity matters; What are you creating? What is your inspiration? What does this time lead you to contemplate?