Weaving a Thread of Normality

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve started working in a Kitchen Sketchbook again. I started the original one when I was on adoption leave a few years back and wasn’t able to work in my usual way. It helped me to hang on to a thread of daily practice despite all the changes that came with stopping work and becoming a Dad to a very active 3 year old.

Now that Covid-19 is here, with everything that brings – school closures (my boy is now 8 and at home again), work cancellations, exhibition cancellations, being stuck at home away from my studio, with news on social media of death and disease – I feel the need again to find ways of weaving a thread of artful practice into my daily life. Something that is mine, that is about finding beauty in the everyday, and which supports me to make art with what’s laying around me.

My Kitchen Sketchbook used to be just that, a book I would leave in the kitchen to make art in when I was washing up or making dinner. Now it has started travelling around the house with me and into the garden too.

I’ve also started bundling again. I had gone off of it a bit, after years of making Walking Bundles of various kinds, it felt like time to move on to new ways of working. Then, again the virus came and all my work ‘out there’ went. The bundles have helped me to stay connected to the here and now, to the rhythms of everyday life, getting out, putting one foot in front of the other and absorbing all the, colour and energy of Spring.

The Ash Tree Stream project hasn’t been cancelled, but school sessions have moved and the exhibition has been postponed to the Autumn too (see here for full details), but I’m carrying on with my individual research/making in the meantime, involving my son in expeditions out to find new Ash trees and leave my camera trap on them to record what it sees when ‘The Ash Looks Back’.

Articles (on social media) tell me to unplug and not be on social media so much, to protect my mental health from the news, but sometimes social media feels like my main link to the outside world. So I share my daily Kitchen Sketchbook pages, my Walking Bundles and my camera trap footage of hares, foxes and badgers. It reminds me of who I am outside of my role as Dad and Husband, and keeps me going each day.

Who knows how long this is going to go on for, which of us will get sick, whether there will be work for us at the end of it all. There are so many unknowns, and I can handle a certain amount of that, but I need the physical nature of my making to keep me grounded, keep me connected to the here and now, so I don’t float off into an anxious world of what-ifs.

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