artists in lockdown drift magazine
article mercedes smith
At first, I sort of let Covid-19 pass me over. My son was teaching in Shanghai and he returned to the UK at the start of February just as everything kicked off. I felt, at the time, that he was overreacting by coming home, but obviously I was wrong. I spent lockdown at home in Newlyn. My studio is only a short walk from my house, and I was able to work in isolation there. The pandemic affected my creativity from one extreme to another. At first, I worked a lot, preparing for a scheduled show in May. This was strange as the gallery and I were more focused on promoting the show through social media and a virtual reality platform, rather than physically curating the work. I then reached a real low, where I felt there was no point in anything, let alone creating work that may never be seen in the flesh. I threw out a lot of notes and sketch book work and got rid of thirty or so paintings so that the frames could be re-stretched. I thought a lot about life, and about myself as a person, and about the human race. Then I had a huge surge of creativity: I felt lucky that I was able to create and have an outlet away from the turmoil. The solitude of my studio was hugely cathartic, but also raw and emotion fuelled. I worked on a series of flower paintings, I think because flowers are a familiar subject for me and gave me a feeling of safety in this uncertain time.
The crisis has made me appreciate that as artists, we are used to relying on a certain resilience and living ‘on the edge’, so adapting to change is probably easier for us. I have also found it interesting that, during lockdown, the importance of art and creativity in our lives has become more apparent and more acknowledged. I also spent a lot of time thinking about my practice and where to take it in the future. I am starting a ceramics course, working on some design collaborations, and thinking about a subject for my next short film. My painting, however, will always come first.