In the latest in our series of commissions dedicated to disabled artists in isolation, Carrie Ravenscroft gives an account of her lockdown through a series of pen and ink artworks.
Week 1: After being thrown into panic over the news of the virus, I spent a lot of time in bed. One day I got some drawing materials out and, although still in bed, I was reminded of art’s ability to help us; I resolved to take control of my perspective and document the experience visually. I picked up my pencil and drew exactly what I felt in the moment; the result being a meta-image of myself taking that first step towards managing my stress response.
Week 2: Being partially furloughed meant suddenly finding myself with enforced spare time. I’d been too unwell to create art in the previous few months, so rediscovering art was a life saver. My disability/mental illness didn’t pause, only reshaped. Lockdown gave me permission to enjoy the “small things in life” like nature and cooking (experimentally).
Week 3: I think we desire a close connection to people and generally thrive off the company of others. I realised my relationships are the most important part of my life but the most important act in minimising the spread of Covid-19 is social distancing. And hand-washing. I’m confused about the government’s directions, but I was suddenly listening and following carefully. Around week three I’d found enough escapisms to avoid the covid-anxiety, rending to my houseplants being one of those.
Week 4: I travelled to the local pharmacy once a week to collect my medicine. During outings I attempted to abide by the social distancing rules. – wearing a face covering, not entering a shop when there are too many people inside and keeping 2 metre distance between people. Seeing pharmacies run out of medication was hard. I noticed I was also still never without my phone, which has been an essential.
Week 5: I dreamt of becoming self-sufficient by planting my own vegetables. Carrots grew into goldfish and I felt too guilty to eat them; reality, fantasy and art-making blurred together. The pandemic is too surreal! I used personal art-making during isolation as a form of therapy to help me understand, reflect and process the shifted ways of living.
Week 6: I was, like many others, in and out of a very primal survival mode, sometimes intertwined with a guilty feeling of privilege. Watching/reading the news created more anxiety and yet it was tempting. Distractions – particularly creative ones – helped. A way of gaining back a sense of control was through art-making; I became absorbed in a creative process for hours, choosing what happens on the page.
Week 7: We are mourning loss. It took me a while to realise what this feeling was. Every day the country woke up to bad news, followed by good news, followed by bad news. My nan got Covid and the reality of it all cannot be escaped. I am grateful to all the frontline workers and can’t imagine what they are going through.