Thursday, 10 December 2020
This year didn't quite work out as I'd planned. As, I imagine, it didn't for anyone. I ended my maternity leave in the new year of 2020 and quit my full time job with a grand plan of becoming a freelance photographer. In March, as lockdown 1 came round, we withheld putting our toddler into nursery and the first few photography jobs I'd booked got cancelled. And as what we all thought would be a few weeks, then 3 months, then 6 months, instead almost a year has passed and I've spent it at home full time with an energetic, delightful, and sleep thieving toddler. Something that I am incredibly grateful to have the luxury to do but which wasn't how I'd thought this year would be.
Lots of people find it difficult to slow down. To permit themselves time to rest, especially in our busy lives where there is always something else to be doing. I have one precious nap time hour a day to myself, usually a stressful hour trying to get as many things done as I can and then sitting down with a cup of tea just in time to hear that familiar cry of a waking baby.
A few weeks into lockdown I read something that a friend of mine @richwells shared on Instagram about his creative practice as a collage artist which inspired my to spend my hour slightly differently:
'Everytime I sit down to do some collage I have a voice in my head that says 'what are you doing, get on with some real work, it doesn't even look like anything. Anyone can cut some stupid shapes out of a magazine.' But then slowly, I lose track of time, the voices fade, and I feel alive again.'
So every day, when the house is quiet, I sit down with a cup of tea and a good pair of scissors, and I cut some shapes out of a magazine. I enjoy it when some good colours come together, or when a couple of random shapes fit together in a pleasing way. And I don't need to think about the endless list of tasks or that pile of washing that needs doing. I never set out to make 'art' or for it to be anything other than a way to switch off for a bit. But 9 months on and I've created a whole lot of pieces of artwork, some of which I've sold, some that I've been commissioned to make.
This year has taught many of us to look at our time in a new way and to slow down in ways that we didn't ever know city living could accommodate. Cutting a few stupid shapes out of magazines has probably been the best lesson I've learnt in a long time about the importance of slowing down, turning off my screens, putting aside my life admin and doing a bit of mindful creativity, and being content to just play. I hope that's a lesson I can carry beyond Covid.