Looking for a starting point, thinking how I could convey quiet absence through drawing and also while having limited resources myself, in isolation, I started to draw empty chairs. Office chair, school chair, park bench and bar stools were replaced by settee, three piece suite and arm chair.
An empty chair can also be a poignant reminder of person no longer with us.
At the beginning of the pandemic there were some difficult times and great uncertainty, there still are, but now there is some normality coming back into the everyday goings on, for society as a whole, shops opening, some children going back to school, some work resuming and non emergency medical appointments and some people have lost people they love.
Covid19 current times, we’ve have all been living, a lot more than usual, within our four walls. I wanted to illustrate that by doing some drawings about those moments when we would be doing things in our homes, shopping online, staring into space, reading, scrolling on social media, exercising and cooking.
One of the things I like to do is create rooms or places where we live on the surface of an envelope, a bit like creating a room in a dolls house. Collected images of heavily patterned fabric or paper scanned or photographed, manipulated in Photoshop, to create a scaled down wallpaper or pattern to fit a mini interior. Then I turn it in to a transfer to insert into the scene drawn on the envelope. Slightly absurd I’m aware!
Picture above shows someone reading in an interior environment. Drawn on old envelope.
Way before we’d even imagined a life with quarantines and lockdowns I was given this old wallpaper sample book I’m going to use it to create some interiors.
Hot Bed Press in Salford, is where my studio is and where I go to work as an artist, thanks to them and University of Salford Collections I have been selected as an artist to create work responding to the Coronavirus and the way it has and continues to change the way we live. Lots of people have lost work, with immediate loss of income myself included. The importance of this commission is to allow me to work as an artist, to respond ‘put pen to paper’.
The brief asks us to using our current style and ways of working to explore the situation we find ourselves in
Having lived for the best part of twenty years in a high rise block of flats I count myself very lucky to have just moved out before this pandemic started and now live in a house with a yard ( this was a huge adjustment for me and amazingly exciting for my little girl we have stairs!) It is really astonishing for me to observe nature in my yard in the same way I used view the world from above in my 10th floor window. Obviously viewing the world from above is unique and interesting perspective but living high rise accommodation with small children is difficult, it is trapping and I really feel for my old friends and neighbours at this time.
As always I start my investigation into drawing by looking around at environment, drawing, list writing and taking photos. Some of the moments, during lockdown isolation have been swinging from panic to mundanity, at times I can be found staring at the ground and because my yard was not brimming with nature, observing life in the back yard is more microscopic, then small interactions with insects become loaded with great significance.
So this is where it starts, staring at the ground, who knows where it will lead I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to think about it.
Today has been a busy day, aside from photographing storm fallen unearthed trees (drawing at a later date) I’ve been completing or adding to a few pieces of work, I’m not quite sure if they are finished, I’ve photographed them anyway. I often draw and leave for a while to give myself time to contemplate adding new elements, maybe some print or collage…sometimes I’m just not able to come up with anything then I have a lightbulb moment. Mostly I’ve been adding a few splashes of colour with transfer to these envelopes today then I needed to photograph them, during this process I have thought about new ways of presenting and displaying the work.
Back of the envelope
Back of the envelope:- a phrase meaning to calculate and work things out. It is inferred that our light bulb moments come from rough doodles on a throw away scrap of paper, when doodling on a piece of paper of no value your mind is free to do your best work.
Drawing on envelopes to repurpose paper that has touched our lives but has then been discarded and forgotten, but not always entirely some stored beneath floorboards, in disorderly piles on shelves and crammed into the back of cabinets, by strange people like me who can’t throw things away.
Attaching importance to inanimate objects is something that all human beings do, the question is what are the important ‘things’ it is inevitable that things become throwaway eventually. With a thrifty temperament and collector’s disposition it’s natural to amass great piles of envelopes and begin a journey to scribble, squiggle and sketch onto an old envelope.
Patterns and plush velour sofa, chair, settee or a three piece suite… sofa so good or a blustery bus stop. Pictures observing pause a moment to reflect, a temporary stop, reset your batteries.