What could I tell you about my experience of the lockdown….We have shared it with two very small people, our daughter who is 3 and our baby boy who just turned 1. A time of little sleep and the juggles of everyday life; of being in the garden with a toddler who points out things you might have otherwise missed, a snail on the underside of a leaf, a spider under a rock. Time is slower, lilting, maybe it’s the sun, the heat, the afternoons feel warm and the tiredness makes everything feel drowsy. We start the day early, due to the small people in the house, and the days are punctuated, moments when they snack, eat, sleep; rhythms of time, a constant beat in the day that never changes. Every day is the same. And yet each day is different of course.
We live in London but the birds chatter seems louder than before, at times it feels like we live elsewhere, somewhere less urban. Today we went into Hackney Marshes, right by our house and heard the drill of a woodpecker. But I like the different sounds, the echoes of the city have softened, like it does when it snows and there is a deadening and unfurling of what is around us. Nature feels closer, even in a large city like this.
The presence of man feels more acute at this time, when you see a rare aero plane in the sky trailing its vapor lines behind, it feels more wondrous than it did before. A sight that so often went unnoticed and yet now, seeing it so much more rarely, it makes me marvel at the concept of flight and travel. Of being far away, outside the walls of our homes that we see so often, travelling further that the letterbox and the shop on the corner.
When I was asked to make a piece of work for this exhibition I decided to make something that took my mind beyond the domesticity and routine that is the everyday at the moment. It was a chance to think about what I miss, what I take for granted, what I look forward to be able to do again. For me being out in nature is what I miss most, of long walks and freedom to roam, going to a destination and making a day of it. In the early weeks of the lockdown I kept thinking about being beside the sea, the taste of the air, the sense of openness, the way your breathing slows down. I wanted to make an image that resembled this and the quality of a woodcut, of slowly carving it at home, printing it by hand without a press, the homemade quality and sense of labor and time spent, felt a fitting reflection on this period of time.