Friday, March 19, 2021

Reflection: Moving forward while staying put

One year this week. 

I basically decided it was all getting serious on March 13th last year and went into lockdown before the government called it.

I have only gone into the post office to post art a few times (thankfully now they come to the house to collect for a small fee). I visited a few small markets for necessities on only a few occasions. I have been into my studio only four times in the past year and mostly when the virus levels were lower last summer and early autumn. I have met with a couple of friends in gardens, a friend a few times in a park, and a friend a few times for walks or a quick walking chat when they were in the neighbourhood. I have worn a mask to answer the door and I still wash the groceries (that are now delivered) and my hands after taking a walk or after handling anything from the outside world. 

Isn't it wild? We have learned so many new ways of being in a relatively short span of time. I am curious how some of us managed to move forward while staying put, how we maintained friendships, careers, and hopefully basic mental and physical health. I know I am one of the lucky ones, my status as a self-employed artist is a weird place to start this journey but in many ways, probably made this whole experience easier. I could more easily follow the rules, I could stay at home. I was eligible for funding and support through government agencies and arts organisations and financial help from my studio building. My patrons and supporters stepped up and helped to keep my studio rent paid, kept me in materials, and the utilities on by supporting my work through Ko-fi and beyond. Thank you!

Some wonderful opportunities have come my way during this strange year as well. I became much more involved in attending events hosted by the Scottish Artists Union of which I am a proud member. I also joined SCAN (Scottish Contemporary Art Network) during this time. I am currently a member of the women's abstract art collective, Abstractionistas, which was founded during the pandemic. I have been interviewed by P3DRO and have been the recipient of the Butterbiggens Prize and featured on their site. 

Of course, exhibitions were different during this time as in-person exhibitions were cancelled and changed to online or partially online depending on the restrictions at the time. Artist talks and open studios were cancelled as well. 

My work has been part of the following exhibitions:

My studio at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall is now part of the Leith Late Virtual Tours culture map of Edinburgh thanks to the commission by Leith Late. Next month, in April, I will join the Granton Hub as a volunteer member of the arts subgroup to contribute ideas and help run events in their arts programme. I am really looking forward to this. 

So while we have been isolated, there has been community, opportunity, more funding and a wider conversation on the importance of mental health and social care. The conversation on Universal Basic Income has inched ever forward as well. This is all good. There was so much loss, stress, and worry during this time and it still continues. It will take a while for us all to be vaccinated so that we can forge a new normal. Things have been added to our lives and things have been taken and have fallen away. 

I know today I am bone tired and weary as I look back and yet I am so fortunate. I also know that I have walked for miles and miles and have seen beautiful things and all the while I made art. This curious compulsion that continues to see me through, this practice that gives me voice and identity through thick and thin. I am so grateful for charcoal, paper, and paint. I am so grateful for my hands, heart, and for you. You, the ones that are still here and the ones that have faded away from my life or are on another plane. I am so grateful to you.

The sun comes in the windows as I type, I have a big glass of water - my body says it needs about twenty more and a lot of quiet time. Soon the paper and charcoal will be calling me again and we have a lot to say. 

Until next week, take care. Keep fighting, we need you here and all the gifts you bring. 

Thank you. 

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