My online installation Home2Home is what it says in it’s title. A communication between a disabled artist, from the confines of my home to other disabled artists in their’s. And the sharing of experiences of lockdown and how it is affecting our access to our creativity. As for me, Covid 19 has been a passage of self-realisation and sharing it with others.
Lockdown with a laptop and access to image making and manipulation has been freeing in spite of my mostly self-imposed isolation. I have been people watching, recording their comings and goings. Exercising, walking their dogs, breaking news from various ministers about the current death tolls…. and my inner feelings of anger and injustice.
If you have recently lost a friend or member of your family, you will understand, I have lost both. Including friend and fellow musician Lyn Levitt, one of the most talented musicians I know. It felt too raw to include her in my artwork but the feelings and experiences of other fellow artists, that have shared their time with me on Skype has. The loss or postponement of commissions and other work have affected many of them and forced them to reassess their prospects and creativity outlets, others like me, are using their personal experiences of lockdown as their inspiration, let’s face it, what else is there?
So, lockdown has been my motif, meme and muse. A 360 degree immersive installation, basically me in my room being ultra aware of my immediate surroundings, what is going on outside my window, on my television and online communication with others like me. The artwork is no doubt claustrophobic and the viewer is immersed in my world as soon as they put on a headset, or navigate my 360 degree space on their handset or laptop. But what is most evocative than the visuals, is the soundtrack of artists expressing their own experiences of their own forms of enforced claustrophobia and not being able to see friends and family.
As a friend of Disability Arts Online, I have been flicking through posts of digital images, drawings of people or objects and snap shots of local views by other artists. Listening to my son in the next room rehearsing for an online production. Listening to Jo-anne’s Cox’s dragon cello lamenting a lost friend with deep profundity and great emotional beauty and passion. Flicking through Twitter for Aidan Moseby’s photographs of his walks and personal lockdown, watching the ancient, silent majesty of Colin Hambrook’s paintings of cedar trees changing and developing into surreal realisation of beings observing him, pondering over Benedict Philips DIV photographic installations, wandering what has been written on the seaworthy paper vessel fashioned by Letty McHugh and laughing out loud at Dolly Sen’s face mask to bra to conversion video.
So what is my artwork really about? Maybe it’s isolation and a need to communicate and find my own lockdown community of old and new found friends. Ultimately we are social beings but possibly not so alone if we reach out to each other on all forms of social media, or pick up the phone and share our experiences feelings creative responses about that, however difficult or painful it might be.
We are social creatures after all and need interaction. And I desperately miss you all. And I miss the train journeys to meet old friends and make new one’s in the Tate Gallery. Not being able to listen to the gigs and concerts I paid out to experience live, they have been cancelled or postponed. Mostly I miss my family and closest friends and worry about their health, mental state and welfare.
So, has lockdown been a window of inspiration and a door to my own creativity? Yes and most definitely no. Therefore my work is quite probably but mostly, about loss and restriction and my struggle to come to terms with that and survive it in the most creative way I can.