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Art during Pandemic: Increasing Our Resilience

We examine how art has increased resiliance and inspired solidarity in the face of one of Britian's greatest challenges.

Through the uncertainty of the pandemic, it has been truly inspiring to see the resilience and solidarity of the British public. Over the past few months, we have seen the whole nation doing their part during the lockdown period, whether it has been to support the frontline workers or to keep household morale high during these challenging times. A response that has made a particularly positive impact has been the creative art that has come out of lockdown. Art has been a reassurance and comfort for many people throughout the pandemic. We’ve seen this through the rainbow, which has become a sign of hope and a symbol of support for the NHS.

Image credit: Adrian Raudaschl
My own personal experience of lockdown was positively affected by art. My family and I set up an art project where each week we would have a different theme to create a piece of art of any medium. Across the weeks we had a range of themes, one of my favourites being ‘Self-Portraits’, which everyone interpreted in an original style, bringing colour, collage and abstract versions of themselves to life. I also loved seeing the depictions of ‘House’ and what we all presented to define our homes, such as the comforting sight of the front door, the cosy warmth of the fireplace and the heart of the kitchen; the AGA. Always dashing to finish before the deadline, we would present our creations to one another at the end of the week on our extensive family WhatsApp group, followed by an online anonymous vote.

After an hour of Granny and Grandpa tackling the technology required for the online vote, we would arrive at a result, often controversial, but accepted within the spirit of the competition. We often had a disagreement over the next weeks choice of theme, but it would always result in a consensus. It was an activity to which we all looked forward and was inspiring to see the innovative interpretations of the subject matter, such as Jaws vs The Little Mermaid in ‘Movie’ week. These diverse choices made voting quite difficult and brought out our competitive family edge with the Grandparents pulling out all the stops to see off the strong teenage challenge. We now come out of lockdown with our art creations as souvenirs for us to look back on from this time.
It has also been a reassurance to see the art created beyond our homes to those of recognised artists. For many artists, working from home in a solitary environment is part of their everyday routine, so it is not surprising that they were able to thrive during the isolated months of lockdown. It has been really fascinating to see how the pandemic has spurred new themes and muses for artists and how they have captured this period in art. During lockdown, the British street artist, Banksy, used his own home as a canvas, depicting his infamous rats causing a riot in his bathroom. Tallying the days of the never-ending lockdown, like so many of us he showed he was struggling with boredom. He also paid tribute to the NHS by painting a mural in Southampton General Hospital, of a boy playing with the new modern day superhero, a nurse.

 Image credit: Banksy via Facebook

British sculptor, Anthony Gormley, shared his lockdown creations through the White Cube gallery. He has been focusing on capturing life during lockdown. ‘Hold’, a sculptural piece of a crouched figure, clasping its knees close to its head is a mirror of what many of us have felt like during this uncertain period. The sculpture gives a sense of unity as it shows a collective response of many individuals.
For other artists, art is a way of relieving stress, especially over the last few months. Britain’s beloved David Hockney has been in Normandy during lockdown, finding solace in the French countryside. During the first month of lockdown, he released some observational iPad paintings, paying homage to France’s colourful Spring. Through these paintings, he inspires us to appreciate our everyday surroundings, particularly when confined to one space.
Grayson Perry has launched a television series, ‘Grayson’s Art Club’, which is showcasing the art that has been made by the British public during lockdown. Similarly to my own family art project, Perry would give a theme to the British public each week, to which they would respond with their own work of art. The show dives into the benefits that art has played for many people in this difficult time. For some it’s a way to self-express and to communicate, for others it can be a stress relief or a way to stimulate creative thinking.  

Image credit: Antony Gormley via White Cube

With galleries beginning to reopen their doors, we look forward to seeing other works emerging from this period in history. Click here to find out more about the lastest London Museum and Gallery Reopenings.