19 April 2021

Scottish artists across 7 generations create artworks inspired by life under lockdown as part of a new exhibition and film project

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  • COVID-19 pandemic has linked 7 visual artists from 7 generations, working in Scotland, to create works inspired by life under lockdown
  • Artists across mediums and practices captured experiences of moments in history from personal and generational perspective
  • Artworks form a new group exhibition and film which will be touring across Edinburgh and Lothian Hospitals and beyond

Delivered by Tonic Arts, NHS Lothian Charity’s Arts in Health and Wellbeing Programme, a panel including project manager and curator Hans K Clausen selected 7 artists from 7 age groups from under 20s to over 70s to feature their observations, experiences, reflections and insights of living through the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The responses/testimonies of the lockdown experience given by those different generations of artists is gathered in a new exhibition and film named Life under Lockdown.

The artists participated in solo micro residencies which resulted in a unique group exhibition of works that creatively capture fragments of lives lived under lockdown. Artists Jodie Campbell (under 20s), Emelia Kerr Beale (20s), Dan Sambo and Hannah Brackston (30s), Virginia Hutchison (40s), David (Cully) McCulloch (50s), Olivia Irvine (60s) and David Rushton (70s) have developed original visual artistic responses to what they have experienced using an array of mediums and practices. From drawing, to engraving, sewing or scale modeling, they depict moments, observations and responses to the period of uncertainty, highlighting the essential character of creativity.

During the residency, Jodie Campbell, the youngest artist aged 16, painted her grandmother and neighbours and captured through her portraits the lives of those she painted and how they have coped with lockdown. This creative process has also helped her cope with her own lockdown experience.

Emelia Kerr Beale created a series of new textile works using various processes, inspired by the culture of banner making. This new work echoes the message of solidarity and thanks to key workers that children have drawn and displayed on windows, which was her only external visual stimulation at the time. She associated them with her own imagery and with quotes from texts and emails she’d received. Intricately crafted, the musings from this initial lockdown period ponders how we find intimacy in times of limited touch, the relationships we foster through emailing or the moments of rest we are seeking within chaos.

Glasgow based Dan Sambo and Hannah Brackston became first time parents during lockdown. They made a number of temporary installations for their daughter, Amelia, using everyday objects and items linked to absent family members creating play pieces that are developmentally appropriate for infants. They sought to create new and varied sensory experiences for their baby and focused on the construction of memory at an early age when social construction couldn’t happen during lockdown. These installations have been used to create a set of photographic prints which show the objects they created, their shapes and almost inducing the sounds they would make. In response to research highlighting how the most impactful effect of COVID-19 on children is parents’ stress, their work is also meant to inspire adults to find some lightness through the act of play and highlight the importance of being creative.

With Study for a Kiss, Virginia Hutchinson focused on the idea of touch and how interactive experiences with art objects can embody this. A series of hand gestures which represents ways of sending a kiss have been engraved into copper “push” plates and represent the movement of hands across the plate. The act of engraving these hand gestures onto soft copper sheets – a naturally anti-viral material – sat between printmaking and tattooing and felt political for the artist as copper has been replaced by cheaper material in public and healthcare architecture.

David (Cully) McCulloch took inspiration from the new cultural daily vocabulary brought by the pandemic and developed responses to how words and phrases impact the way people are expected to live in lockdown. Playing with ambiguity, he made a number of signs inspired by the pandemics new common visual language, taking hospital signs, and re-appropriating them into moments of poetic reflection offering more than just instructions.

The series of frescoes inspired by objects that her parents acquired whilst living in Ankara (Turkey) have helped Olivia Irvine to cope with the COVID-19 related death of her father and help with her grieving process. The technique of fresco felt like the right process to use and allowed her to spend time with her mother surrounded by the objects that she drew and painted. Her artworks titles are reflecting her parents’ time together but also are related to grief and to grief in art.

David Rushton documented the closure of the Museum of Model Art and its conversion into a temporary space for work and play throughout lockdown by building a miniature model of the Museum. The highly detailed 1:24 art-model limits the viewpoint to a single person and invites the viewer into an intimate experience of seeing, drawing comparisons to reading a book. With the model’s limited opening the world around the viewer is effectively excluded. There are inescapable comparisons and metaphors in this work with lockdown experiences of isolation, separation and observation.

These artistic fragments of experiences lived under lockdown have been gathered in a group exhibition curated by Tonic Arts Exhibitions Manager Hans K Clausen which will be on display at the Western General Hospital’s Anne Ferguson Gallery from April 19th to June 12th 2021.

Chris Lewis Cook, filmmaker, has documented the artists’ works and filmed them in conversation to accompany the exhibition and to tell the story behind each artwork. This film will be available to view from April 12th on line at www.tonicarts.nhslothiancharity.org

Hans K Clausen, curator, said: The group of seven artists who differ in age, experience and artistic practice have produced a powerful and diverse body of work. Collectively the work provides a reflective and poignant glimpse into how the global pandemic affected lives and how visual art could provide a platform and connectivity to share these experiences, both sad and joyful.

Take a virtual tour of the exhibition

Photo Credits: Steven Cook and Eoin Carey

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