As I shared in the previous post, I fell ill with Covid-19 in the middle of March 2020 which necessitated a three week period of self-isolation. The disturbing news reports of global infection rates, restriction of movement and death-counts were being monitored by most people with morbid fascination, and in the UK, hand-washing and the frantic depletion of supermarket shelves had begun in earnest. Despite feeling weak and listless for weeks on end, I was determined to work for an hour or two each day on three charcoal drawings already in progress before the outbreak. Initially they were quite amorphous abstract shapes which I had intended would become seed-forms of some kind; an idea based on Jesus’ ‘seed parables’ which I have been exploring in my art. As I worked on them, however, the drawings seemed to suggest specific shapes and forms which were different to what I was expecting; in the same way one might find a unicorn in a cloud formation whilst trying to see the teacup somebody is pointing out. In the still abstracted seed-shapes I was seeing vague anatomical forms and objects which I laboured to ‘bring out’ and refine. Now three months on these three drawings do seem to reflect that strange time back to me. The surgical feel of pipes and dressings, domestic appliances, straps and knobs; and the grasping intertwined limbs and hands, speak quite overtly of actions similar to the ‘battening down of the hatches’ of a ship. We were all bracing, hunkering down and drawing into ourselves. Many artists I speak with, experienced that initial lock-down period as facilitating increased ‘head space’ and productivity in their art-making, but it wasn’t an easy time or a restful holiday. A storm was coming, and it struck something like Edvard Munch’s silent scream; even as the sun shone, and birdsong was heard in quietened neighbourhoods.
2 thoughts on “Drawing with the Virus”
Really powerful and moving observations on these quite exceptional drawings. How interesting to reflect back on them in this way three months on.
Thanks! Yes, and it’s sobering to realise how much has happened in just three months.