The motivation for creating art can be tricky to source. One minute the creative juices are flowing and your imagination is producing faster than you can keep up with. The next minute, you're staring at a blank canvas for an hour with nothing to show for the effort. Even at the best of times, keeping consistently creative is difficult. This made me curious as to how artists were approaching their work during the lockdown. Does being isolated stifle one's creativity or does it add focus? I reached out to several artists for their thoughts.
William Bock, an artist who had the terrible misfortune of having his latest work go on exhibition at West Cork Arts Centre just as the lockdown began, had this to say about his change in plans: "I’ve found the opportunity to slow down and spend more time walking and engaging with the outdoor environment alone most rewarding. I recently set myself a daily photographic challenge using only my body and the landscape or plants I encountered on my walks, which I posted on social media afterwards. The daily challenge combined with having a public platform for the images was a new and improvisational process in my practice which I found inspiring during the restrictions of lockdown."
So William took to the outdoors and found a new way to challenge himself creatively. But what about artists who chose to create from home? Artist Catherine Weld contributed her thoughts: "My studio is at home so I wasn't affected there. My experience of the lockdown has probably been quite untypical in that my work hours immediately doubled so I've been out to part-time work as an 'essential' worker throughout. On the other hand, both the shows I had lined up for this year have been postponed which was disappointing. But actually, I feel this has been really beneficial to my actual work as it's created a sense of space and time without the pressure of exhibiting. Online opportunities have also increased, and have had some good knock-on effects. But then I've had to cancel my studio courses and lost quite a bit of money there... so it's a good old mixture of pros and cons."
The balance of creating while juggling the changes we've all faced to our circumstances has its ups and downs it seems. Uillinn's own Claire Lambert reflected as much: "Usually I would have to work to support myself so the lockdown actually gave me a unique experience of having more time to go into my studio."
Many of the artists I spoke to acknowledge the negatives of creating during the lockdown but chose to not let that overshadow the positives. More focus, more time, less pressure, new challenges. It's encouraging to hear of this positive perspective during these adverse times. I think we've all turned to some form of art to help us through the lockdown and I was glad to learn that the people working in the professional arts sector are doing whatever they can to hone in on their focus and motivation to enable them to keep doing what they do best.
All of the artists mentioned in this blog currently have work on display in our Online Members and Friends 2020 exhibition so feel free to check them out: https://www.uillinngalleries.com/
Images: William Bock, Walking Series, I am european 2019
Catherine Weld, Fragile Island 2
Claire Lambert, Priests Leap