Behaving responsibly during this pandemic can take many forms and frustrations, but for the creative, the artist, it unleashes time and space usually attributed to the more mundane, or sociable activities outside of the home, which can be filled with painting, printing, drawing and such enjoyment!
Beginning thoughts on Covid19 and isolation came as we were enjoying the unseasonably good weather, sitting in the garden, our haven of tranquillity, and watching the signs of spring as it began to transform first the bare branches of the fig tree, then the apple tree. The old victorian brick garden wall, topped with trellis has been our boundary-marker and conversation enabler all in one. Thankful for close neighbourly contact but safe separation, the garden has been one inspiration for two very different canvases…
Throughout the ‘lockdown’, elements of the garden have symbolised my thoughts of positivity – the vivid pink of the camelia in bloom, the shoots of new growth, but it has also reflected my feelings of confinement and restriction. Just as the walls and trellis are barriers or fences, they can support plant growth. The lockdown and social distancing whilst difficult to live, with are obviously for our benefit.
Focussing on the garden as a green tranquil space and soaking up the sunlight is the tonic we have needed to live through this pandemic. I have been feeling serenely calm, strangely strong and have experienced an amazing sense of freedom to create during these unprecedented times. Recreating this, representing this in some form of ‘art’ has been an incredibly cathartic process; a previously discarded canvas, the only large one available, was what triggered off the work…the layering process began as my thoughts and feelings emerged, rolled around my head and emerged in some swathe of acrylic paint, flowing ink, soluble. Pastels, masking tape, colour, the movement and lots of experimenting and tweaking, working and reworking…
It started out as a canvas of ‘two halves’ – one which allowed glimmers of hope and a positive outcome after the confinement, with brighter colours and flowers and fruits of labours…and the other, which was the walls, fencing, restriction, dominated by the strong branches of the fig tree. Part way through working on the canvas actually in the garden, I noticed in our next-door neighbour’s garden, the calla lilies were in abundance – their statuesque beauty just had to be captured on my canvas; they seemed to be forcing their strength and elegance through the walls and fencing. Previously, this side of the canvas was quite grey and austere, with the strong but rambling sky-seeking fig branches, bobbled with new fruit, the addition of the lilies successfully drew the attention.
So, spring pushes on, the fig branches begin to be covered in pale green hands unfurling and growing daily in size to create cool shade, and the canvas comes together too. Layers are added, shade emphasized and light accentuated and an out-of-season, but colourful tea-rose further symbolising the hope and positivity that is felt in the garden. Foliage -painted, printed, collaged adds to the foreground and bindweed (painted on plastic, cut and attached to painted fishing line) inevitably entwines itself around the most beautiful of flowers, imposing its restrictions, llike the restriction we too are feeling at the prospect of another three weeks of ‘lockdown’.
Finally, the foreground of the canvas, which combines both ‘real’ and imagined parts, is filled with some ‘bug hotels’ and discarded pruned branches to complete the scene – these provide ‘accommodation’ for the smallest, but highly helpful of creatures in our garden
As the artist, I feel drawn to the “Bigger Picture” of this whole situation, the transformation around the world, hope for the future and some fear but in my garden, I have a sense of feeling safe…of strength, serenity, and sanctuary.