LOCKDOWN TALES: Creativity in Captivity, Pt 1. How are you staying inspired in quarantine?
As we adjust to lockdown living and all the juggling acts that come with it, it’s safe to say that most of us are pretty daunted by the weeks ahead. While in isolation, many of us have started seeking creative outlets to keep our hands busy and minds quiet. Whether it’s drawing, cooking, practicing your craft or simply taking a break from it all, we would love to hear what’s lifting your spirits during this time.
With this in mind we share the first of our new Creativity in Captivity series, where we consider how creating something, anything, however small – might help us recharge, reflect and connect with one another. Below, artists in various fields tell us how they’ve been coping with self-isolation, and share their tips for getting into a creative mindset.
Jennifer Thoreson, Photographer
The act of creating something is restorative, especially in a time like this. Just today, I timidly started a Facebook group for artists and photographers to create work to share while under quarantine. I thought it might be a bit of fun and a release for us all. I was amazed at the response; many people really seem to desperately need this outlet, I could almost hear sighs of relief when people joined. We all need a place to put this energy. Right now, while people are scared, I see art adding beauty and meaning, helping people to see physical representation of the thoughts that are flooding our minds. A year from now, I think it’ll serve more as a mirror, revealing the guts of what has happened to us, and the way our lives and culture were forever changed by this.
Dylan Chavles, Hairstylist
I really miss doing hair; so I took a shot in the dark and started offering virtual haircuts. This basically means that I get on a video chat with someone remotely and walk them through cutting their own hair. I’ve been “booked” solid with people since I started so that’s been a wild ride. It’s completely donation based if someone has the means to donate. I think using your creativity to help others around you in any capacity is the most substantial role art/your ego can play right now. This pandemic has levelled the playing field for most of us in terms of stability, some way worse than others, and the only way we will all get through this is to try and lift up someone who has less than we do.
Muriel Nisse, Mask Maker
I feel like this challenging time is going to put things in perspective, especially for people obsessed by profit and money making. It could potentially force them to search for something else inside them, and that’s a good thing. I think art makes even more sense in a time like this because it helps to develop our inner world, it’s an open window to spirituality and immaterial things.
My advice would be to play and have fun in one way or another. I think that playing is creating so no matter what you are playing with, sounds, images, objects, food or whatever… If you can’t find a starting point because you’re lost among too many possibilities, or because you don’t know where to start, look for some simple materials you have at home and start doing a repetitive gesture with them. I find that’s often a good starting point.
Joey George, Hairstylist
What we need now is to create a window of hope, an escape. With everything seemingly coming to a halt, we need art more than ever. We need the abstract, the poetry, the fantasy… something to make us feel powerful and inspired. My advice would be to build a space in your home and fill it with inspirations and your work. When you want to get creative, go to this space and start to sketch. Write it out if it is easier. The creative process is about DOING and the exertion of that energy.
Ling Chun, Ceramic Artist
As an educator in ceramic arts, I’m getting to experience what it’s like to be a “YouTuber” and have been recording lots of demo videos for educational purposes and distance learning. That’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and under the current circumstances, I have no excuse. The physicality of how we connect to the world is becoming less and less, and I believe the impact of COVID-19 will remove even more of that physical connection. This thought really makes me appreciate the fact that I have access to materials to work with, and my capability to physically manipulate those materials is something I should really begin to cherish.
Sam Jaffe, Artist
Before the quarantine, I dragged a few items from my studio (a knitting machine, a mannequin, and some yarn) into my dining room. I’m currently working with a very limited palette. This presents a particular challenge for me because a large part of my process involves accumulating an ever-growing lexicon of treasures that I can draw from. My art is often about transforming the most common remnants of human life. It’s about combinations and amalgamations of details. It’s about an over-romanticizing of the commonplace. Working with limited access to my archives feels like trying to create in a void, it has forced me to invent rather than appropriate or excavate. Hair is a material of particular interest to me because it is involuntarily, wondrously generated by our own bodies. We’re like spiders spinning our own one-of-a-kind silky, kinky, or tangled costumes. Hair is an opportunity for a new sculpture every day.
Janine Ker, Hairstylist/Artist
Right now, we are all experiencing a collective upheaval. I’m trying to make sure my home remains a place for me to access some stillness and peace by limiting my intake of news. I feel like the past two weeks have been about shock and processing of what is going on, and now, the real work will start to begin. I have to admit I’ve found it difficult to be freely creative during this time because my work’s vibe is the opposite of what is going on in the world. It’s difficult to feel confident, it’s difficult to concentrate on topics like fashion… I will have to really tap into the essence of the work: self expression. My advice would be to give yourself permission to follow your gut and fuck what people might think. I have to convince myself of that constantly. Follow your instincts and don’t overthink it. Let your attraction to subject matter and materials flow, and immerse yourself.
Jayoung Yoon, Artist
Perhaps this is a time of physical isolation, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot support each other emotionally and psychologically. Now more than ever, we need to stay connected to each other. Artists can still share work through newsletters, social media feeds, online exhibitions, virtual studio visits, etc. I recommend writing a few pages in the morning. It’s a method of daily writing that comes from ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. For me, it takes the form of poems, doodling, and drawing. I found it’s really helped me to listen to my inner voice, empty my thoughts and have creative ideas.
Contributors: Dylan Chavles, Ling Chun, Sam Jaffe, Janine Ker, Muriel Nisse, Jennifer Thoreson, Jayoung Yoon
Photography: Vincent Fandos, Thistle Brown
Interviews: Emma de Clercq