Well what a year that turned out to be, I doubt that anyone could have predicted that!
When lockdown first started, nobody could have guessed that it would go on for so long.
Initially for me, it was just like a normal ‘down time’ period between mural projects, a time when I am stuck at home with no work coming in (and no money). So I didn’t panic, I just went along with it and tried to look at alternative ways of working. It was quite pleasant to have some time to slow down and relax, knowing that, for once, everyone else was in the same situation.
I decided to treat the whole thing as an opportunity to produce some art that would be unique to this time, so I started to document events by painting things that were ‘out of the norm’. One of my first pieces being ‘Bog Roll with Coronavirus Wallpaper’ to represent the panic-buying that went on at the beginning and the 3 week quest I had to buy some toilet roll, as we only tended to buy one pack at a time and ours was nearly all used up!
I had always wanted to make some online tutorials to share my working techniques with artists who were starting out and I knew that, in normal circumstances, I would never get around to doing this as I didn’t have the right camera, lighting, set up, etc. I would have spent way to long writing scripts, that I wouldn’t have been able to follow while I was painting and then would have been way too critical of my own work and the way I had portrayed it and would never have got them edited to a standard where I would have been happy to share them with the public. But an opportunity came up for me to share my studio sessions as live watch party sessions on Facebook on behalf of the VC Gallery in Pembrokeshire, as they were no longer able to hold classes in-house. I then downloaded each session, edited it and uploaded it to YouTube. Nearly a year later and I now hold a resource stock of over 60 videos that can be used for artists starting out or as a reference source for various techniques. You can see them by clicking the link below:
As the months glided by, I discovered I had so much free time and started to think about what else I could do with it!
I started to enter a few painting competitions and actually won first prize in The Big Lockdown Art Challenge Wales with my entry entitled ‘Celebration’ which was a representation of life after lockdown.
In April, as part of my live watch party sessions, I produced 2 ‘Coronavirus Collages’ representing keyworkers and messages about them from recent news items.
The postal worker who posed for the painting was my sister, she asked if I could donate the original painting to her depot, which I did. This then went on to get featured inside Courier Magazine, the Royal Mail in-house magazine that goes out monthly to all staff.
On Instagram a new initiative entitled ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ was started, whereby artists offered their services for free by placing an ad on the page and then waited for responses from NHS keyworkers.
I decided to give this a go as I had quite a lot of spare time and was inundated with requests. I managed to do 3 before I got too busy with other projects;
Clair Miller, dietitian working on the acute wards at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.
I also came up with the idea of thanking as many keyworkers as I could in my piece called ‘Suicide Squad of South Wales’.
In June we briefly came out of Lockdown for a short few weeks and I managed to paint my one and only mural of 2020. Again thanking keyworkers, this was painted on the garages on the corner of Augustine Way, Haverfordwest. Pembrokeshire, working with the VC Gallery. The rainbow was a symbol of lockdown, as it turns the corner it begins to break up and becomes a flock of birds to represent getting our freedom back.
Since then we have been in various versions of lockdowns and the messages became more and more confusing, which inspired me to produce a piece called ‘(DON’T) GO TO WORK’ featuring Boris Johnson and all the differing messages that we have been given related to lockdown:
As we now enter 2021, the future is still so uncertain. We are still in lockdown here in South Wales and as yet don’t know how much longer this will last.
I am still continuing with my online art sessions, as well as the Facebook live watch parties every Wednesday at 12:30, I now hold two Zoom tutorials each week. The first on Tuesday Mornings at 10am until 12noon and the second on Wednesday afternoons at 2pm until 4pm and they can be accessed through Ticket Tailor at this link:
Here’s to a brighter future!