Making Art In The Time Of Covid-19

Many artists I know claim they are surging ahead, making wonderful new work with all the extra time they have with inspiration based on , blah blah blah… But apart from the extra time spent in the higher priority of maintaining personal contact a bit more frequently with the far flung family, I am also one of those who’ve found the sudden rush of this virus and impacts on daily life a bit stifling of my creativity.

I’ve read about the same number of novels as usual, watched maybe a bit more news and analysis on tv but never during the day – around 9am we switch to music for hours – on the cable channel we have you can select radio music to just play continuously with almost no interruption, and my choice each day varies between symphonic, R&B, and 70/s hits. I think Caribbean salsa sounds nice for one day this week … It’s nice and easy to have it playing in the bakcground. Every day I read a local newspaper with greater focus, and spent about the usual time reading the US and Aus newspapers I’ve always read – as after all that’s where our family members are. Then there is the far greater mass of information of varying quality and veracity that has flooded the Facebook pages, and I have found myself spending some very interesting time there. I don’t have time for twitter for goodness’ sake – it’s probably like Pinterest, able to let you spend hours more time than is good for you!

After close and extended family, I’m most interested the posts of close friends, especially old ones, and fellow artists I know personally, and people who actually post a personal thought or message, not those who just click the share button al l the time. I haven’t watched any streamed opera or ballet yet, haven’t done any virtual travel or museum visits, either, but how wonderful so much is being made available to help people get trhough this period of isolation.. Even though Mike and I have settled into the new normal of social distancing, I was kept obsessively busy the first couple of weeks of the emergency here in Uruguay; and still every day I wonder where does everyone find the time for all that additional kulcha?

The answer is the same it has always been – it all depends on your personal priorities. So after the first couple of weeks of dithering tinged with panic, I’ve re-ordered my priorities and developed a routine of sorts. It includes at least 2 hours a day of stitching, preferably in the morning after the household chores. It’s a good time to do something that’s always been important to me, and unless I’m focused on problem solving or designing, it’s an activity I do with the additional pleasure of listening to an audio book. I’m currently really absorbed in “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish. After lunch I read the newspapers and write to or phone family, or phone at least 2 people a day who I haven’t spoken to for a while. On thursday mornings I tune in at 10.30 to skype for a morale boosting chat with the mahjong girls, at our usual weekly time (we meet for brunch before playing the game) It’s something we’re all missing under this emergency. We’ve alwaysknown that each of us have problems in our lives, and on occasion have been known to just stop playing to listen… Today everyone’s current worries are different with weighing more heavily on certain shoulders right now. Finding some me-time, some mental health time, through balanced interactions and activities has never been more important.

And so I come to my current project.

Preview(opens in a new tab)

Basted white lines (temporary only) outline approx 10cm squares; layout is the 9-patch from traditional patchwork. The theoretical plan, subject to artist’s change of mind: that details of landscapes and borders of squares will also be rendered in hand stitch, using reds/oranges.

I’ve recently posted my current interest in little landscapes, or miniatures , which until now have been of improv/freehand patchwork. In January last, before our lives were turned upside down by covid-19, I made one 40cm sq work to enter into Australia Wide 7, and this may be another, it all depends how we go. I’ve said elsewhere that this size and shape, with post-bushfire theme of regeneration and restoration, are to be the parameters of my textile art this year.

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