Wednesday, 5 August 2020

life during lockdown... Part 1

My teenager keeps saying to me "nothing has really changed for you" as I have generally continued with my my work in"business as usual" mode during this entire period of lockdown. Although I have missed the more social aspects of my life especially friends and my time at the weekly ceramics workshop at Signal Arts Centre, I have found myself to be continuously busy with my art & writing, keeping in touch with people by telephone, Zoom, letter, email, Whatsapp and Skype. Perhaps I could even be accused of being more diligent at maintaining social contacts!

But shortly after lockdown started in March, I finally decided it was a good time to self-publish my first chapbook of poems. The first step to doing this was the founding of Precariat Press. After a brainstorming session, my husband, artist James Hayes designed a logo for me. And so it began! I have blogged about this previously here.

In April, I was inspired by Austin Kleon's Instagram account; he was making daily zines and I wanted to know how to make them. Kleon and a number of other bookbinders who have posted on YouTube have given really simple instructions for zines that can be made, with folding and tearing (or cutting) from a standard page. I did my own experiments with larger pages and heavier materials and blogged about it here. For a zine with more pages, simply glue two or more together!

Every year I participate in the annual incognito fundraiser for the Jack & Jill Children's Foundation. Due to Covid19 this year, the fundraiser was solely online. Normally images are made available for perusal on the incognito website, and then they are shown over a 3 day period at a Dublin gallery in April. This year there was also going to be an exhibition at a Cork gallery in May. Instead, a way to both see and buy the work online was made available. The artworks are all postcard sized and cost the same amount (€50) with the name of the artist only being revealed to the buyer after payment is made. I think the Dublin offering sold out within 15 minutes. I had two pieces in the Dublin exhibition (a detail of one being on the farthest left row, second from top).

One of my pieces (I donated three) was in the Cork show, which I believe also sold out quite quickly. My collage is second from left, second row down. I have blogged about previous incognito fundraisers here, here, here, and here.

In May I did the compositional sketch, which I will have as a reference when working on another large painting, Knockeen, as part of my current series Memory Is My Homeland. I have blogged about the origins and previous work in this series here, here, here, here, here,  and here.

I was, of course, simultaneously working on the lino design for the cover of my poetry chapbook, which would be titled Home Sweet Home Goodbye. The design is based on a childhood farewell card I made for my grandparents when they were returning to Ireland after their first visit to Canada (where I was born and grew up). I did several blogs about the design origins and progress of the linoprint here, here and here.

While in lockdown, as well as making work, I continued to browse for "virtual" opportunities. I found it quite interesting that submitting images to exhibitions taking place on the likes of Instagram made it possible to submit internationally. I submitted an image of Room Mate, a recent work from the Memory Is My Homeland series to an Instagram exhibition open call for work created during lockdown which responded to certain words. I have blogged about this oilstick drawing here and here. It will be featured in the Do It Yourway Instagram exhibition on August 14. The words that I feel the work responds to are "hard", "soft", and "reflect". Certainly my reasons for those words are apparent when I blogged about the piece here.

I have also continued to submit written work in answer to specific calls or open reading periods. Dwell Time is a mental health organisation in the UK and they put out a call for written and/or visual work in response to the lockdown. As I had specifically written several poems on this theme, I fired them off and they were published both on the Dwell Time website and its FaceBook page. I subsequently posted them on my own social media pages. Here is one of the three.

In addition to writing, making artwork, virtually socialising and reading I have been totally enjoying virtual music gigs (John Otway, Josh Ritter, Lisa Hannigan), concert film streaming premieres (Iggy Pop, New Order, Nick Cave), poetry readings (Hollie McNish), theatre (The National Theatre UK, The Druid Theatre IRL, The Abbey IRL, and Stratford Festival Canada) and opera (The Met NYC). Early on in lockdown a friend sent me a link to someone who had posted links to education, sports, business resources, health and entertainment. This was extremely helpful and alerted me to many things which are being made available, at no charge, to help keep people sane during this trying time. That is how I was alerted to free streams of first-class theatre and opera. For me the most amazing event I was lucky to see was The Met's production of Philip Glass's opera Akhnaten. It was phenomenal and indescribable and for me, something that I never would have had the chance to experience if there hadn't been this lockdown!

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