Dog Life Drawing
I love meeting artists. I am fortunate that I get to meet a lot of them through both House of Prints and my day job.
It instantly put a smile on my face. Simon arrived with his Schnauzer – Bindi, and grinned: ‘Oh yes, Bindi is one of the top life models for that! It’s a great laugh.’
Being in the same room with wonderful people, laughing while everyone tries to draw a dog, must seem a distant memory now – just like my endless travels between artist studios.
I sat and watched Grayson Perry’s Art Club on Channel 4 catch up last night – as he discusses portraits, draws portraits of his wife over and over again and expresses the vulnerability of an artist (‘I think if I keep pecking away at this, I’m gonna ruin it!’). In the final moment, when Philippa and Grayson both look at Philippa’s portrait on a 30inch ceramic plate, Philippa said: ‘I think you know me better than I know myself’.
I enjoyed the programme, and I like that it’s not a simple – ‘what art we can do while in quarantine’. It helps me look at the question many of us are considering – why art?
Art at a Time Like This
Since the lockdown in the UK started, I spoke to over 30 artists on the phone, Zoom, Google Hangout. I heard a lot of self-questioning – Why would anyone need art now? How can I help? Or am I just burdening the society?
One said to me, we will be remembered by how we acted during this time.
Very early on, New York-based curators Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen curated an online exhibition called Art at a Time Like This, featuring work by some challenging artists.
FORMAT Festival launched an Instagram account @massisolationFORMAT – showing moving and provocative photographs from the world during the quarantine.
Various artist/creative initiatives are making Personal Protection Equipment for frontline workers – including SWG3, who is fundraising £120,000 for manufacturing them.
And closer to me – and literally up the street, Dena O’Brien of Kiwi Print Studio is making screenprints of Rainbows into wee hours in the morning, to raise fund for NHS Trust in Cornwall.
Little by little, many of us are doing something to help.
I see Britain as a couple in disagreement, who have to stay together in quarantine – the Remainers and Leavers, the Left and Right. I’m hopeful everything we do will bring us closer and let us take time to look at each other. And when we are close enough to portrait each other, we may start to know each other better than ourselves.
Image: Porthmeor Print Workshop