We are making work in lockdown and rather than dwelling on the many downsides and indeed tragedies that coronavirus has brought, we are looking for the silver lining. As David Korten writes in his book, ‘the Great Turning'(2007): “We cannot avoid the unraveling. We can, however, turn a potentially terminal crisis into an epic opportunity to bring forth a new era of Earth Community grounded in life-affirming cultural values.”
This blog shows collages in the making and includes written responses to various prompts that we have shared. What will unfold?
Charms Again Chaos Series 2: VII, VIII, IX
Life has been feeling restrained and confining these last few weeks even though creating work in the studio has been a very grounding process.
As life begins to return to some kind of normality adrawing a week for the foreseeable future would be a great outcome for me – alongside experimentations in paint, which as yet remain firmly in the studio.
Before we try to return to the previous ‘normal’, don’t we need to ask if we really want to return to inequality and extinction of other species?
Isn’t the idea of ‘normal’ as outdated as ‘Vitruvius man’ anyway? The shortcomings of the modernist idea of utopia, that one solution fits all, are brought into focus as we try to leave lockdown.
Lockdown has given us an opportunity to review and to create new ways of being together and hopeful. “Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world.” Joanna Macey.
Its become a chaotic slip sliding out of lockdown. Rules change and change again. Back to school or not? Quarantine or not? Still people are dieing.
George Floyd is murdered. Black Lives Matter. In Bristol Colston’s statue is toppled and dropped over the harbour wall.
Covid highlights these inequalities. Another inquiry into racism is commissioned; recommendations from previous inquiries having been dismissed.
What do we do?
‘I wander’ is the result of nine short walks made from my home in Abergavenny, Wales during the COVID-19 lockdown. The initial idea was to make a series of random walks that complied with the allowed one hour restricted exercise; to walk for thirty minutes: take a picture on a Fuji instant film camera then return home, recording the route on the Ordnance Survey mapping App.
After making a few walks I began to think about how I might make a piece of work using the photographs and mapping data I would accumulate. Using a grid to show all the photographs and maps seemed like a logical idea, and translated nicely into nine walks. However I soon realised that to make sense of all the pictures and mapping data I would probably end up making different pieces of work, and ultimately making different work to show online and in a gallery setting.
The ‘I wander’ animation/slideshow is a moving collage that documents each walk, it shows the body of work as a whole. The ‘I Wander’ grid of nine scanned instant film prints is the first work made from individual elements intended for printing and exhibition. This points the way forward for more work to be created in the coming months.
Valerie Coffin Price
June 2020 Green
… green mosses in my hand.
And think of the greens of stalk and calyx and bud-sheath …
… of trees standing singly with the light in them and trees massed into forest; of marshland and waterweed and the lurid pond-scum; of the green flowers …
metallic greens, …. such as verdigris; or jade;
The green skies of evening
Nan Shepherd ‘The Colours of Deeside’
Thanks to The Nature Library for highlighting this book.
I miss the colour of a life full of different people, places and experiences. To be static is comforting for a while but to never move on is stultifying, I look forward to a time when we can put the variety back into our lives.
How have we defined this time if not through hazard tape? marking out our path through the last twelve weeks in two-meter sections, black and yellow stripes dictating our social relationship with space and each other.
Lockdown has given me a sense of heftedness. I feel that I am hefted to my home range. I have learnt an increased sense of belonging and connection to the land near to my home; and there is beauty in that connection. I hope I can maintain this connection as we come out of lockdown.
The meaning of the word hefted is explained at the beginning of James Rebank’s book, The Shepherd’s Life. A Tale of the Lake District, on page xi
Noun: 1) (Northern England) A piece of upland pasture to which a farm animal has become hefted. 2) An animal that has become hefted thus.
Verb: Trans. (Northern England and Scotland) of a farm animal, especially a flock of sheep: To become accustomed and attached to an area of upland pasture.
Adj.: Hefted: describing livestock that has become thus attached.
(Etymology: from the Old Norse hefo, meaning ’tradition’)
In contrast with many people who were at the start of the lockdown thrown into an open space of time seemingly without boundaries, I found my days shifted between two extremes. One has been an undefined stillness with the freedom to move around at will and secondly my time as a health worker within the NHS where time is frenzied and boundaries are in place restricting movement & directions are tightly controlled.
During my free time and taking advantage of the almost perfect weather I began to explore unfamiliar parts of the landscape that I thought I knew so well.
This led me to become aware of new patterns within the landscape, patterns of pathways and field boundaries, irregular and manmade interlocking shapes. I was able to move freely along these paths and across these boundaries which seem to contrast so poignantly with my time spent within the NHS.
Mid to end of May
Charms Again Chaos Series 2: IV, V, VI
The local idyll of endless sunny days and beautiful vistas, good company and creativity was, however, being interrupted by news of events around the world –
daily briefings, baffling government information, alarming statistics, Black Lives Matter protests, plastic pollution and the climate crisis,
a short lived optimism for possibilities of how the world could change for the better, extraordinary weather conditions and general worry about how things would pan out … alongside some great humour in the online community.
Walking amongst trees, settling into deep listening in their midst, created a deep, embodied safety. Theirs is an unconditional love.
Friday 29th May, two months after beginning the early morning pilgrimage to the wood, fear was subsiding, allowing a slight diversion to our route.
“…without her there would be madness.” Imagine the rustling of leaves as Molly explores and returns, explores and returns, then hops up onto the log.
On the third day of listening I was called to stand in the meadow and witness with a wider, embracing as well as with my ears.
On the second day of collecting soundings and words following mediations, I realised that a new practice of deeper listening was emerging, one that allowed fear to be present in my body.
Taking part in a guided abundance meditation, on Sunday 24th May I took the practice out of my home space and into the wooded sanctuary. For the next six days I made soundings with my phone and recorded words in text.
DANCE IN A BOX DANCE OUTSIDE A BOX
My wooden house during Lockdown has become even more clearly my sacred space, my sanctuary, a place for me. In normal life it is the place I do Shiatsu with others. Now it is simply a place where I can dance, meditate and do yoga.
I consider my body as a sacred space, my body as part of nature and dance as a way of exploring the sacred within and without.
The outer world affects our inner world and the inner world affects our outer world. Lockdown illustrates this.
Through this time of stopping. I have come to deeply cherish my little wooden box. I feel more at peace with myself and the world around me. I am more able to just be. I think it is easier when the world at large is not hectic.
There has been a certain sense of acceptance in the air, accepting limitations in our lives for the common good. I realise it has been good for me to have to accept limitations. I have learnt that I thrive when things are made more simple and limited.
The dancing outside of the box has also had its restrictions but it has been interesting to create new ways of responding to the natural world and other dancers at a social distance. At times the intimacy seemed heightened by the distance. The thread between us was very strong. The silence drew poetry out of us!
I’ve been thinking about how best to work with the mapping files and instant film pictures. I think it will probably be in two phases, firstly a digital collage based on a square grid split into nine (one per walk), and secondly individual pieces based on each walk either printed on wood or utilising glass printed elements (this may happen sometime in the future). As we are pretty much still in full lockdown here in Wales I’m carrying on as before, walking and recording the routes (mapping and photography). I have two more to do, then I can really start working on the finished piece.
Fiona Kam Meadley
Fiona Kam Meadley
Fiona Kam Meadley
Fiona Kam Meadley
Fiona Kam Meadley
As the shape of lock down changes, its becoming more important to focus on the ‘silver linings’ that we have unearthed. Politics again begin to divide us, roads again are aggressive, polluting, busy and littered with road kill, people are ignoring social distancing and anger has replaced much of the feeling of being in this together.
My sacred space has become a metaphor for reflection and resilience, a state of being from where I hope, to plan and act for a better future.
Coronavirus has shone a light on many inequalities and personal tragedies. I continue to exist as if in a sacred space, outside of which the virus is wreaking havoc. I know that this isn’t the case and my tears are ready to flow as voices from elsewhere tell their harrowing stories.
How powerful this institutionalised isolation has become. How important the daily contact with other humans and the non human. Access to green space and fresh air have never seemed so essential and so unfairly distributed.
Like many people, I have relished the lack of pressure to go out, do things, be places, to appreciate more the domestic space we have created but often don’t have time to enjoy fully. In a family where student children have returned, we have learnt new ways to be with each other, new boundaries have been agreed and physical space newly arranged.
There has also been an important addition to the type of space we now inhabit. Digital space has become a large part of our lives, allowing us all to maintain relationships with family, friends and colleagues, space in which we can be a different version of ourselves, professional, student, colleague, friend, as well as husband, wife, daughter, son.
Photography catches glimpses of happenings. If eyes are open one can get lucky. This image connects to Covid-19 and the beginnings of 1-1 meetings.
Yesterday, I met my daughter for the first time for over 8 weeks.
Charms Again Chaos Series 2: I, II, III
I have found an intensity of focus and a real enjoyment in my surroundings, both outside and in. Bringing the woods and the home together I began to include odd juxtapositions of objects and nature – a way for me to visualise the thought interruptions that come whilst walking.
Valerie Coffin Price
April 2020 Yellow
They start immediately, the yellow lines. They follow me round the corner …
And the plates. The number plates.
So many yellow number plates, from start to end.
And the yellow lines continue.
hand drawn painted
formed in metal gates
Walls in pale custard yellow – so many walls I feel quite sick.
Celandine Dandelion Diasy Forsythia Hedges
Dead daffodils Old leaves
And only one front door. Just the one.
May 14th. Enjoyed the two Walking the Land walks co-ordinated by Whats App and email. Still haven’t had a chance to process the images, but enjoyed the new challenge of walking Shakespeares Way finding new footpaths. It feels quite scary setting out on the walks as there aren’t any toilets and only a few shops open, it’s a bit like a Sunday everyday. I’m hoping to collage some photographs and collagraphs to record the walks.
I appreciate the quietness with no air traffic and the clear starry nights. I also am deeply appreciative of living on Bredon Hill; where I can climb to the top of the hill or walk down to the River Avon. I’m appreciating the time in the studio finishing old projects and starting new ones without interruptions. Recording plants from bud to bloom, planting seeds and watching them grow.
Fiona Kam Meadley
I’ve been making masks….dragged out an ancient sewing machine (inherited from mother in law) and reminded myself how to sew, following a pattern found on internet. Very much a COVID related project. Materials scavenged from the house – old tea towels, shoe laces (for ties), garden wire (for nose supports), and tissue paper for filters.
home has become our sanctuary. I’ve almost forgotten the outside world – occasional forays out to Stonehouse feel like major expeditions.
Early May/ April…
Hidden away in a deep Cotswold valley I have lived as if on a retreat.
Lockdown has been a blessing for me
There has been a stillness and peace with no distant traffic sounds, no aeroplanes flying over head. Our lane is mainly used by walkers now with the odd delivery van. As the human world has contracted the natural world has been able to expand into the space left. It is like a breathe, as we breath in, nature can breath out.
A sign of relief!
The experience of lockdown has been stilling. I felt I could breath more deeply into my life. Allow days to naturally unfold. More time enabled me to be more aware of my home space and surrounding valley, to appreciate it more richly.
During lockdown I have been able to spend more time in my Wooden Shiatsu house. It is my personal space, my sanctuary and my studio. As this project is about Sacred Space, it was the obvious place to begin. I began by taking a walk around it with the attitude of seeing it for the first time and gathering up its sense of place and a sense of why I belong here.
April 30th. My immediate reaction was to set up a community group to help those shielding and canvassed all my neighbours. I couldn’t really think about anything art project wise. Once our small village of 200 on the escarpment of Bredon Hill, had set up helplines, Whats App groups and we were all trying to help each other with shopping and prescriptions, I could then get into the studio and start working. Missing my life class, so I had to challenge myself trying to do new things in a different way. I also tidied my studio and created a bit of a photographic studio, something I could do with my husband, so that being in the studio wasn’t a solo shutting myself off from the pandemic experience.
Initially, I did a lot of cleaning and clearing out and couldn’t really process the enormity of the effect of Covid19 on the world. I miss seeing my family and friends and the telephone doesn’t ring anymore as no-one has any news. We all learn new skills on Whats App and Zoom holding group chats and quizzes. Within 48 hours I feel l can breathe more easily and my asthma improves as the level of traffic diminishes.
Covid-19 seems to produce a life full of opposites. I illustrate this with my photographs of opposing life styles – my home in rural Herefordshire and city life in Hong Kong where I sometimes stay. Doors and windows that do not open, claustrophobic flats in sky scrapers …,
… as opposed to the freedom of hill walking with my dog and all the opportunities that Lockdown presents. There seems to be a chink of light where the restricting rules are gradually changing.
At first lockdown was traumatic. Time spent cancelling so many things. Brain taken up with reconsidering what was still possible. As it surprisingly quickly became the reality, there seemed to be two sides to it. On one hand the calmness on the roads, the clear skies and sound of bird song, the feeling of togetherness and celebrating respect for all key workers. This though weighed against with the awful daily news, horrific statistics and heart rending stories.
Circles and grids of certainty broke down, yet drawing with grandchildren in the springtime woods and gardens created new realities. Shadows may have been deeper, yet colour and sound had an added vitality.
Based on April’s First Friday Walk, a curated circular walk within a kilometre of home, I made maps that are overlays of experiences of the walk, including responses to pre circulated prompts as well as WhatsApps shared between the walkers.
I was aware of a sudden change from wet winter walks to walking under clear blue skies. It was quite overpowering, as if spring had become a palpable force, releasing its energy to help conteract the virus.
I’ve started documenting one hour restricted exercise lockdown wanders from my home in Abergavenny. I’m using the OS App to map my routes and my phone timer to let me know when I’ve walked for half an hour. At this point I take a instant photo with my Fuji Instax camera, then turn for home. It is my intention to make an artwork/series of artworks with the GPX files and images at some point when the dust has settled!
Chickens, sheep, goats, a newborn calf at Woodhouse. I noted these things.
I walk to Mount Vernon. Read ‘Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile’, a novel by Alice Jolly.
I am looking for a continuity of occupancy in the landscape. Seeking comfort in the past.
I inhabit my home and immediate landscape more thoroughly. I become part of it, it becomes part of me. A welding, merging.
I have begun making collages on food packaging. Stillness, beauty and time, I hope to capture.
Fiona Kam Meadley
Fiona Kam Meadley
Fiona Kam Meadley
Valerie Coffin Price
March 2020, Blue
Blue was the space he moved in
Blue was what the jackdaws saw
what the dogs sniffed in terrace corners
Blue the bruised and wounded flesh the seams and masked faces
Blue the unseen
Blue the sea and the freighted ships
Blue the night-sky where the little yellow stars were
Blue the river and the shadowed valley Blue the windows with a splash of yellow
Blue the taste of the Welsh rain
Blue was the journey that had taken him a lifetime
Nocturne Jeremy Hooker Scattered Light p26
Follow My Blog
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.