As Europe went into lockdown in March 2020, we were chartering unknown territory – a situation that nobody (to my knowledge) had experienced in their lifetime. Initially, we were told lockdown would last 15 days. Yet today, five months on, most European countries remain in lockdown or are on the cusp of lockdown. We were all faced with a strange isolation and we were faced with physical and mental restrictions. 

With this unfamiliar situation we have had an opportunity to take time to stop and smell the roses… or at least stop and enjoy the art and creativity that surrounds us.

It was a common popular trend to relate the pandemic – and 2020 as a whole – as ‘the apocalypse’. The end of the world. Armageddon. And yes, it sure felt like that at some moments during 2020. Netflix and Amazon Prime promoted end-of-the-world feature films to compliment the reality of the pandemic. We hoarded toilet rolls and stocked up on canned food. But one thing that we forgot to include in our perception of the 2020-the-end-is-nigh apocalypse nightmare was humanity. 

What we can be sure of during these unexplored times is that we humans are greater than any Hollywood movie. We clapped for our health staff on Thursday nights. We respected curfews for the sake of our elders. We created art. Ah yes, creating art – what a unique aspect of humanity that makes our world more wonderful. During the pandemic, art had done more than just unleash our creativity – it brought us all together. Never underestimate what art can do for society.

HONOURING OUR HEROES

When the UK went into lockdown on 23rd March, windows of homes across the country were illuminated with rainbows. Often drawn or painted by children, the gesture was the community’s way of showing support to the NHS staff for their hard work and dedication to helping patients during the pandemic. The rainbow became a symbol of support and solidarity across the UK.

Banksy also shared his feelings towards the NHS staff when he presented a painting to the Southampton General Hospital. The painting, which hangs in a foyer near the emergency department of the hospital, depicts a young boy playing with his figurines. Next to the boy is a basket that is stocked with a Batman and a Spiderman figurine. The boy discards his superhero toys and chooses to play with his new, favourite hero figurine – the NHS nurse. The artwork was accompanied with a note for hospital workers reading, “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”

The painting will remain on display at the Southampton General Hospital until Autumn where it will go up for auction to raise money for the NHS.

Adobe launched their #honorheroes with Creativity campaign: “We’ve been proud to partner with iconic artists and creative luminaries from around the world to honour these workers and volunteers making a difference during the COVID-19 crisis.” The software company invited creatives to honour their heroes by producing and sharing their very own tributes with the online community.

ART WENT INTERACTIVE

Museums and galleries closed their doors and went virtual. Any respectable art institution understands that art is for everyone to enjoy. During lockdown, nobody had access to the wonderful collection of art. So the museums and galleries turned to technology. 

No more admission fees, no more queues. We now have an opportunity to enjoy some of the greatest masterpieces ever created, all from the comfort of our own homes. Maybe it’s not the same as wandering the large halls of great museums, but we had all access. We’ve compiled a list of 10 museums that offer virtual tours, so you can really quench your art-thirst.

ART CLUB FOR EVERYONE

Art club became extremely popular over lockdown. Grayson’s Art Club was first aired on Channel 4 in the UK on 27th April. Whether viewers joined in on the activities or just watched and enjoyed the process, with each episode focusing on a specific theme or genre. The New Statesman described the show as “a piece of lockdown telly has a charming sense of intimacy and playfulness.” Viewers watch Perry in his home studio as each week he creates a piece of artwork along with his wife and a celebrity guest. The first episode, themed around portraits, sees him sketching a portrait of his wife, Philippa. During the six-part series, Perry invites viewers to send in their drawings of beloved pets, an abstract fantasy scene and a ‘view from your window’. 

British comedian and artist, Noel Fielding also began his own art club during the lockdown. Presented on Instagram and Twitter, the daily art initiative encouraged children to create a piece of art with a chance for their masterpiece to be featured on his Instagram page. Each day at 3 PM, Fielding announced a theme-of-the-day via Instagram stories. He challenged the younger members of the family to draw, paint and create. It was a huge success. The whole family got involved and parents were so grateful to Fielding for encouraging their children to take part while school was closed.

So, during these times of uncertainty, limited opportunity and physical restriction. When times get tough, keep in mind the role art has played during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has helped our community as a whole. Art brought us together. 

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Would you like to find out more about art in your local area? Contact UP & COMING ART today.

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