Although the virus infection and death rate figures are thankfully going down there has been only very general analysis of the detailed demographics behind the generally available figures. The interactive infographic below provides analysis and some understanding of the people lost behind the figures in England and Wales.
Socially Distanced Garden Meetings
As the lockdown is eased socially distanced physical meetings are possible to consider between know participants. Midweek we were invited out to a neighbour’s garden and my partner suggested I leave my phone at home. I did miss it. There were a number of occasions when I reached to make a search, confirm an event or view an image, but as the evening progressed, we relaxed into our face to face live experience. We are lucky enough to have a garden and the following evening an impromptu invitation to a fellow printmaker and partner from across the city was welcomed. Following their 11K paces from theirs to ours, we met and dined together. On arrival a series of three woodcuts were kindly presented to us. Summer images. Another enjoyable digital free evening!
A new term has appeared on my research agenda: Digital Sociality. This describes the increased, and potentially positive social exchanges taking place during the lockdowns and isolations deployed in the global pandemic. It is coined by ethnographers (Saxena and Lee Johnson, 2020):‘During a global pandemic, the wide geographic reach of digital media allows for articulation of imaginaries across places and opens possibilities for shared worlding. Used digital platforms may widen the reach of social and cultural exchange’.
Continuing making drawings with the hashtag #BLM. Below is from the 60 Years Room at Tate Britain last year that celebrated the work of British women artists from 1960s to the present day. The room focuses on the work of British women artists. It included work from several generations who have explored similar themes. Spaces and structures, the idea of home, and fictional identities featured throughout the works. The display highlighted how women artists have been under-represented by galleries.
The numbers debate: Politics (economics) Vs Science (Health)
Following art week’s decision to open my photographic archive to make new drawings relevant to #Blacklivesmatter with the iPad for sharing on Instagram, I have posted the drawing below. It is from a photographic celebratory event at the Birmingham Hippodrome and features portraits of Birmingham’s female Black elders, in the places they feel most at home. They are brought to life via augmented reality that sees the women in the portraits tell their stories and talk directly to viewers about what home means to them. Today is also WindrushDay 2020 when communities across the country celebrate the contribution of the Windrush Generation.
Home was an exciting exhibition of augmented-reality portrait photography that has grown out of a creative project by renowned photographer Vanley Burke and Friction Arts and is presented for the first time at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Vanley Burke is often described as the ‘Godfather of Black British Photography’ – his iconic images have captured the evolving cultural landscape, social change, and stimulated debate in the United Kingdom over the past four decades. His body of work represents possibly the largest photographic record of the Caribbean Diaspora in Britain, and as an avid collector, Vanley continues to connect histories through his substantial archive housed at the Library of Birmingham. From local community organisations to the Victoria & Albert Museum and Whitechapel, Vanley has exhibited widely in the United Kingdom, and as far afield as New York, South Africa and China. Find out more at vanley.co.uk
UK culture news
UK government announces theatres, cinemas and Museums can open with social distancing on ‘Independence Day’. Theatres rely on live audiences for the financial model to operate, cinemas may be able to survive with smaller audiences; Museums may be able to apply social distancing, but they will not be in a position to pay the staff to implement the rules as the income from trading is not to a sustainable level.
#Printgang continues be a shared forum for making and for me Lockdown Lookout drawing. This week Lucy set up her walk and Taiba rehearsed her presentation
Lockdown Lookout #4 Rain has been completed in the computing drawing, composing and editing stages. Digital print Proofing onto paper will be carried out this week.
#Blacklivesmatter and the horrendous results of racism have compounded the painful reality we are living through. As activists have said they “Are Sick and Tired, of being Sick and Tired.”
As well as revisiting drawings I have made in Art Galleries of people and exhibitions that we used to share. I am opening the photographic archive and making new drawings with the iPad, and sharing them on Instagram.
#Printgang continues be a shared forum for making and for me Lockdown Lookout drawing. This week Boyanna joined from Bulgaria where she has relocated for the summer. She is in 14 day quarantine, but continues to make her art works and uploads a daily Vlog:
Lockdown Lookout No 4 has begun.
22 year old black football player from Manchester builds on his active volunteering to force change in government policy to provide lunch vouchers for people in need. #maketheUturn. Can’t say how Big this is. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/53055256
Apologies that week 12 is more visual than literal, but writing has been focussed on a paper that has to be completed for an upcoming deadline.
Can’t look at the Covid figures. There’s a sickness in the air.
#Blacklivesmatter and the horrendous results of racism have compounded the painful reality we are living through. As activists have said they “Are Sick and Tired, of being Sick and Tired.”
I have revisited drawings I have made in Art Galleries of people and exhibitions that we used to share. I am sharing them on Instagram.
#Printgang continues be a shared forum for making and for me Lockdown Lookout drawing.
Lockdown Lookout No1 has been made and digitally proofed and printed. It awaits editioning as a digital print or the basis for a larger silkscreen print based on the layers that have come together in the making.
Lockdown Lookout No 2 has be made and digitally proofed.
Lockdown Lookout No 3 has begun.
Apologies that this blog is visual rather than literal this week, but writing has been focussed on a paper that has to be completed for an upcoming deadline.
There are amazing human examples of care by families and health professionals across the world as people fight to survive the virus. It is increasingly difficult to comprehend the reality of the figures reflecting individual suffering.
Above is the current situation. The beginning of the graph is January 1st 2020 with covid at zero. Click the link and be shocked by the trajectory of this interactive graph.
Birmingham School of Art #printgang
I had an in depth conversation with Justin and Taiba about the Jaqueline Humphries’ print: ‘Red’ referenced in respect of her use of emoji figuration, pattern and abstract grounds. Justin had seen the print for real in a recent visit to Crownpoint Press, San Francisco where it had been made. He reported that it was an impressive work and its size, for an etched print, added to the impression.
We discussed the potential to silkscreen a mark resist drawing on to an aquatinted etching plate by printing with drawing fluid on the plate for it to be dissolved and let the acid bite. Like silkscreen parts of an image may be stopped out to protect from further inking, but in this process areas of the plate can be stopped out for deeper biting. I am not an etcher and am not wholly sure of the process, but it is worth thinking through and experimenting with when back in the Printroom. The concept of mixing silkscreen and etching is appealing.
Meeting a friend in the street we participated in a socially distanced catch up conversation. Jayne is a top costume designer who has designed and made covid masks and kindly offered to make us one each. A few days later the doorbell rang and she and partner Dave had placed a jiffy bag with two masks in a socially distanced way on our letter box. Taking the opportunity to share some time we walked round our communal garden and showed them the neighbour’s developing veg garden and greenhouse reconstruction. We talked beetroot, bees, damsons and peacocks. As we went our separate ways Jayne said this was the best part of making and giving masks to friends: the talking and sharing. Nice!
Lockdown Lookout No1 has been made. It awaits editioning as a digital print or the basis for a larger silkscreen print based on the layers that have come together in the making. Drawing No 2 has begun.
Looking out of another window a range of tree leaves and light are framed by the rectangular window section. Beyond the sunlit highlights I am drawn into the undergrowth on the ipad’s electronic surface feeling my way through the branches, leaves and shadows. The digital magnification function allows one to see further into the detail and the drawing of its, before reducing the view back down to observe the drawing in context of the whole. The first layer has been drawn in 7 days, not 7 weeks. Probably because a format/concept for a series has been established and one can progress with confidence, while aware that a second drawing may not be as satisfying as the first.
On day 4 I was drawing late evening and a tv documentary following 90’s comedian Tony Slattery as he tried to find solutions to his continuing mental health concerns came on. At 60 years old it was an emotional roller coaster ride for him and his partner Mark as he faced psychiatrists, alcohol consultants and past childhood demons. The next day when I returned to draw from where I had left off, I began to be aware of not only the memory of the drawing approach I had taken, but also memories of what was going on in the Tv programme. An image of Tony Slattery battling through against the odds appeared as a type of mental trace. It seemed to be initiated by returning to the same focussed drawing modus operandi that I was pursuing on the iPad screen, while in front of the Tv Screen 12 hours before. The two aligned in a manner not anticipated.
At the end of this week 10 Lockdown is met with terrible trauma in the murder of George Floyd. The reality of vicious racism has been brought to the global stage and protest by all of us is demanded. The disproportionate burden felt by people of colour in the care, employment and justice systems must be recognised and addressed in this pandemic moment of change for the future.
Birmingham Museum acknowledged this need as has artist Mohammed Ali.
It doesn’t get any easier to assimilate what we are experiencing as daily death statistics become a normality. Not an acceptable normality. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ‘Reconcile’ the reality of the figures and confined Isolation.
While posting a recent #Printgang screenshot an image from @Crownpointpress, the iconic San Francisco arts press caught my eye. Crownpoint is a unique press where artists spend dedicated time making ground-breaking prints with expert printmakers.
Crownpoint founder Kathan Brown observes in her introduction how printmakers traverse image making: “In 1965 Richard Diebenkorn drew a woman’s face on a plate and fifty-one years later Jacqueline Humphries, working at the same table, integrated emojis with abstraction. She said she was thinking about the plates, not the prints. The plates make the print.”
Jacqueline Humphries at Crown Point Press
My first impression of Jacqueline Humphries’ featured print ‘Red’ was that it was a layered colour screen print using stencils, half tone and cmyk techniques.
After further research into Jacqueline Humphries’ work and online video interviews, I was rewarded with insights into her layering work aesthetic. She makes images between abstraction and figuration. Mixing abstraction and modern tech images. In print and painting, she uses keyboard characters, emonicons, colons, commas, ascii code, parenthesis and emojis. ‘It’s all done in a computer. Proof those and I make a decision, I have a large laser and I stencil them onto the canvas, then maybe I paint into it. Some characters are blown in contrast in photoshop and bring out different qualities.’
‘For three decades, Humphries has tackled the question about the relevance of abstract painting in a visual culture that is increasingly influenced by screens and technology. The paintings she has developed over the past few years combine both traditional and contemporary methods, abstraction and figuration, gesture and mechanical reproduction, density and flatness, optical illusion and physicality— creating a new language in the long history of abstract painting.
“I am less interested in harnessing technology as a means to make painting or changing painting through technology,” Jacqueline Humphries has said. “But in how technology has changed me. How computers have changed bodies. And so by reimagining painting as a technological interface, I think of painting as a screen upon which anything can be projected.”
Her integration of the complementarity of abstraction and technological imagery encouraged an appreciation of how one artist has embraced these two facets of image making in print. As well as enjoyment of the ‘Red’ artefact’s dark patterning over bright painterly coloured ground it is a contribution to my research into analogue and digital silk screen printmaking.
The Material Encounters Cluster at BCU presented a philosophical webinar delivered by Professor Tim Ingold from Aberdeen University on the subject many arts researchers tussle with in and out of lockdown: HOW CAN ART BE A PRACTICE OF RESEARCH. Professor Ingold is a world renowned Anthropologist and author of books including: Lines (2016), Making (2013), Being Alive (2011) and The Perception of the Environment (2000). This was a most stimulating lecture and Q&A enabling the sold out audience to consider their research in a wider intellectual context than the current restricted environment enables. https://materialencounters.wordpress.com
To wear or not to wear, that is the question.
As debate of how Lockdown might be relaxed the issue of masks has to be dealt with. In considering the pros and cons I looked into the 1918 pandemic flu response that devasted populations having just survived the mass deaths of the first world war. It threw up century old images of masked people and the theories of effectiveness reminiscent of current consideration:
The gauze mask was another prevention method using similar ideas of contagion and germ theory. In the United States it was widely accepted for use in hospitals among health care workers. The face masks consisted of a half yard of gauze, folded like a triangular bandage covering the mouth, nose and chin (BMJ, 11/2/19118). These gauze masks acted to prevent the infectious droplets from being expelled by the mouth and from the hands, contaminated with microbe from being put to the mouth. The barrier from the hands was thought to be more important than the barrier from the air. This rhyme was a popular way to remind people of the ordinance.
Obey the laws
And wear the gauze
Protect your jaws
From Septic Paws
They found that the mask wearing led to “a rapid decline in the number of cases of influenza,” (JAMA, 12/28/1918). A study in the Great Lakes, however, did not find such beneficial results. Mask wearing by hospital corps did not have an effect on the incidence of disease as 8% who used the mask developed infection while only 7.75% of non-mask wearers did (JAMA, Vol. 71, No. 26). Despite these results, the masks were commonly used by many in an effort to avoid the pandemic influenza disease.
Reviewing the digital iPad drawing I decided that the drawn dark framed tree could benefit from and extended frame to situate it in a wider visual context. In photoshop the drawing is positioned on a photograph of the window frames, at 40% opacity creating a light grey abstract irregular grid. The drawn black and white image is tinted, much like the making stencils for silkscreen prints to give a green flat background to the tree and flat blue to the sky. These are all made in separate layers and reminiscent of the waking images that have inspired the print. For print it has become by applying analogue silkscreen conceptions in the data processing of photoshop to be printed out from an inkjet printer.
1. Bright colour settings 2. Bright settings with no window detail. 3. Softer colour settings. 4. No colour with window detail. Over the next week one will be selected to print an edition.
Over 312K recorded deaths globally. Over 34k in UK, where there are signs of slowing, but every one is a personal tragedy.
I have made many more calls on my time and attention this week on external activities that would normally be made face to face. Now mainstream video conferencing apps that we knew nothing of 8 weeks ago, bleep me with my appointments. Apologies to those whose bleep I have missed. Zoom and Teams have been productive, or as productive as they can be with so many people not at work physically or having been ‘furloughed’ (another new word to the vocabulary).
For arts people under lockdown there is nowhere to physically participate, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, music venues nowhere. A recent tweet from a vibrant and innovative cinema programmer, locked down with two 5 year-old children put the condition many are in: ‘I can’t remember what job I used to do. I think it was something to do with pictures in a screen. Moving flickering lights. Sound too.’ David Baldwin, Mac Cinema, Birmingham.
Laura Cumming and Charlotte Higgins. The Guardian
Through instagrammed alerts from arts colleagues and follow on references two articles have helped me consider where we are as museums and art galleries are closed and the curators, managers, support staff and thousands of visitors are left bereft :
Rather than bemoan the state we find ourselves in they paint constructive ways forward that can considered as we see post lockdown possibilities and beyond to arts gatherings. An historic reminder that post world war two UK society decided that arts and culture were important for the future and established the Arts Council and the Festival of Britain. Food for thought.
Lockdown (art) Television
Interestingly two of the newly produced lockdown programmes on television that have encouraged participation and have been enjoyed by many are arts focussed: Grayson Perry’s ‘Art Club’ and BBC Arts ‘Life Drawing Live’. It seems the great British public want more art. Art Club is from GP’s, not the doctors surgery, but Grayson’s studio with his partner Phillipa and a mix of celebs doing art and public submissions for inclusion in a post lockdown exhibition as record of . There have been heart-warming moments of emotional exchange that art has brought to the host and active artists. The first transmission of Life Drawing Live was pre coronavirus February, and a little scoffed at as a titillating gimmick by BBC Arts and Avanti producers. Well in lockdown 8, thousands upon thousands of people drew and submitted their work to the BBC collection centre. The hosts introduced life models in poses from various artistic traditions and took the participating artist’s, at appropriate social distances through 30sec, 1min, 6, 10 and 12 minute poses. The option of ‘pose cam’ on the red button was available to home drawers to focus on an unmediated relationship to the drawing. As a lockdown experience it worked well. My daughter and I drew live, sharing our drawings and comments by text – 90 minutes of live life-drawing, via television worked in Lockdown Britain.
I did not share my drawings with BBC, but have done so with SUPA who have mounted a ‘lucky dip’ art postcard lottery. When you enter you’ll be randomly assigned one of our Supa Dip postcards; original works of postcard art created by celebrated and emerging artists. All profits go to Women’s Aid who are providing vital services in lockdown and beyond.
BCU, Birmingham School of Art #Printgang
I did share one of the drawings with the Print gang who had also taken part in the TV event. Both drawings were clearly of the same subject, but with their own particular mark making approach. They were also shared with @msnorabruno, a ‘printgang’ alumni who video called in from Northern Italy and shared her thoughts on the lockdown experience as we’ll as showed us her impressive home made silkscreen printing press she had researched through https://www.t-shirtforums.com. Inspiring. Printgang is such a good session where we draw, plan and make prints for a future where we will make prints in our post lockdown selected media.
Lockdown Looking Out
Looking out has not progressed far! Only to consider setting the detailed digital drawing of the weeping tree in the visual context of the window through which I am looking out of. Maybe too literal? Still more to come on this drawing. Maybe title change? Lookout Lockdown?
Academic research is slow! I have a couple of projects to complete which are close, but I have not progressed the wider areas of knowledge that are calling me. It does not make me feel good or productive. When Patricia Thomson’s Monday morning Lockdown blog opened with a monitor filled with large text: DO MORE I was dismayed. Of course, she was to explain that she has got a ‘case of what I could acronym FONDA – Fear Of Not Doing Anything. I see much more clearly now how I am prone to think I have done absolutely nothing at the end of the working day. She has been working hard daily, but it does not feel like it and she feels guilty because of it. She concludes that: ‘maybe the first step towards changing the academic guilt regime is to be aware of it. And making a kind of very late new year public resolution to try to get over myself and it.‘