Life is pretty surreal at the moment; I am allowed to go outside to exercise once a day, I have to queue for twenty minutes to get into a shop - and most of them are shut anyway, there is a toilet paper shortage, and hand sanitiser has become liquid gold. Yes, it sounds like the beginning of a strange dystopian novel, but this is in fact the life of someone living in lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Measures have been put in place by the government to limit the spread of the disease and because of this, we have all found ourselves in a new environment that we have had to find ways of adapting to. Along with making significant alterations to their lifestyles, creatives like myself have had to alter their practice in order to continue developing it in their homes.
As the art industry has been forced to reinvent itself online, the first thing that it has been necessary for me to do in order to adapt is give myself an online voice through social media platforms such as Instagram so that I can connect, communicate, and share my work with my creative network. This meant that at the beginning of the pandemic, I spent my time going through all of my work and photographing it, editing these photographs and formatting them for Instagram, and coming up with simple but explanatory captions for the posts of my work. Unexpectedly, from using this communication tool, I have gained more than a boosted social media presence. I have gained confidence in myself and my abilities as an artist as the feedback I have received from people and creatives in my network, practitioners with similar interests, and the general public, has been very positive.
When I realised that I would no longer be able to access a darkroom, the facilities, or the materials I needed to work with my preferred processes, I was demotivated as I knew that I would not be able to continue down the path that I was going down for a while. As a result of these circumstances, I have had to find alternative ways of creating and focus on furthering different areas of my practice. This is exemplified by my “Pandemic Portraits”, a series I captured using a digital camera that enabled me to refine the skills in portrait photography and photo editing and retouching that I acquired from the first of my professional practices. From approaching my practice with open-mindedness, I have learnt more digital photography techniques that I will be able to apply to my future practice as this year I have become interested in combining analogue and digital photographic processes.
As well as adapting my practice to a new creative environment by using different equipment, I have been able to adapt it by using this time to learn new skills that I feel will benefit my personal and professional practice, and improve those that I have. One way that I have done this is through the two work from home opportunities I found: assisting in the production of a short film and a freelance job editing photos for a pet portrait business. For the former, I had many roles such as documenting the filming with a Polaroid camera, acting in the film, and assisting with: prepping the set and determining the design of it, the film lighting and shot composition, and generating ideas for retakes of shots that did not come out as the director desired. For the latter, I have been responsible for using Photoshop to edit and retouch photographs of pets and turn them into digital watercolour paintings using ‘actions’. In addition to working from home throughout the pandemic, I have used this time to improve my Adobe software skills by watching Photoshop tutorials on YouTube and by undertaking LinkedIn Learning courses such as ‘InDesign 2020 Essential Training’.
The pandemic has left most of us with a lot of time on our hands. So far, I think that I have spent this time wisely as I have used it to explore my medium and do things that allow me to develop my practice. Since I am able to do this, I am finding that my days in lockdown are much more enjoyable than I thought they would be and they are going by much faster than I thought they would. This being said, I will be as thankful as everyone else will be when this is all over.