Articulate celebrates how the arts and creativity have helped us through the recent challenging few months of covid-19.
We asked people from all ages and all walks of life to tell us which artwork or creative practice has personally benefited them ~ from film to song, from a novel to drawing.
During covid-19, individuals and communities are turning to creativity for connecting, solace, distraction, enjoyment and more. Through creativity, we are able to express ourselves in a way we perhaps feel difficult due to lockdown, isolation and how we mentally and emotionally are dealing with the pandemic ~ individually and collectively.
Enjoying art is therapeutic and is beneficial to our minds, hearts and souls. Creative projects which are happening during covid-19, such as the family rainbow windows or bear hunts, to online book groups and choirs, to virtual exhibitions and tiktok dancing, are all connecting and supporting individuals locally and internationally.
Yet, the arts and cultural sector has been hit incredibly hard. Many artists work on a freelance basis and have lost income. Many arts venues and organisations have closed and even when the new ‘normal’ is in place, the arts and cultural sector here in Northern Ireland, wider UK, Ireland and internationally will be decimated. The visual artists, makers, poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, actors, performance artists and community artists who have given us so much, will be struggling to produce their work.
So, here at least we have created a space to honour and celebrate their work and the power of creativity. Please join us in sharing which artworks or practice has helped, inspired, comforted or given you joy during covid-19 and help us further push much-deserved recognition of how important the cultural sector is to us both enriching our lives and economically.
Submit a photo (or lines) of your selected works, along with your first name, location and a few lines telling us how it has helped you, to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a rolling project so submissions welcome anytime.
“A bodhran drum stored in the back of a wardrobe for years, finally seeing the light of day. Driving everyone else in the house crazy but I’m loving the me time away from home schooling and news reports to learn something new.”
“I used to be a professional contemporary dancer and I also did ballet for 18 years - I'm told that when I was just a baby my dad used to call me little ballerina Esther and dance me across the table to my tip toes, then when I was 3 my grandmother enrolled me in ballet classes that I was made to attend until I was 18.
I was never much of a ballet dancer, I didn't have the figure for it and I never really liked it all that much either to be honest, but I remember my dad taking me to every ballet lesson and my whole family coming to watch my performances. I've just started doing little bits of ballet in the past few months - I haven't done it in years and despite how physically uncomfortable my pointe shoes are, I have found it kind of emotionally comforting to do a little ballet during this strange time, think it reminds me of family memories and loved ones who you can't be close to now.“
“Art in its different forms whether music, painting etc and with any media has made this period of lockdown for my family much more fun, social and connecting. To be creative has given us the opportunity to get away from COVID-19 and the lockdown rules and be in control of our hands to make something that exists in our imaginations. As a family we have encouraged, listened and helped each other with fun projects whether that was baking, learning to play ukulele (which our dog Bounce has became a fan of), building pyramids, making a paper mache panda, redecorating or even creating a ninja course out of toilet roll. Art has been a welcome distraction and has spread a little happiness also to our extended family as the Grandparents have enjoyed getting photos of our projects. It has made us feel relaxed, together and most of all safe during these uncertain times.”
Desima, Glens of Antrim
Magnificent Birds Album by Hedge Schools & ‘This is the Time to be Slow’ poem by John O’Donohue.
‘This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.’
“I have turned to so many creative works during the last few months, it was hard to choose a couple. The poem seemed just so particularly meaningful at this time and is really advice on what to do when you’re going through a difficult time as we all have been ~ shelter yourself from the storm as best you can, don’t let fear and doubt take over your thoughts and actions. He’s saying, this too will pass, and out of hardship, we emerge with new learning which makes us stronger. I found it a great comfort. I bought the Magnificent Birds album over a year ago, and although I love it and have listened to it a lot since then, I found myself rediscovering it when the pandemic struck. I am moved and personally touched by art that has a poetic beauty to it and this album has that quality, as well as truth, gentleness. I found it both enriching and soulful.”
Monty Python & the Holy Grail Film
“I’ve really enjoyed watching comedy over the last few months and this film particularly has helped lift the gloom.”
“I have really enjoyed restoring an old guitar. I was inspired after visiting The Cavern Club in Liverpool a while back. Anyone that has visited the club will know that the stage wall is decorated in this way, naming all the musical artists and bands that have performed live on stage there.”
Home Work, a Memoir by Julie Andrews
“Homework appropriately named in lockdown when we had to work from home. It was an enjoyable read . Taking me away from the challenges of family life to a world of film and the highs and lows of someone else’s life.”
Susan & Fergus, Dublin
“Hi all, we were struggling to keep ourselves going, like so many others during the lockdown, we are of an age and circumstance that we were cocooning. Thankfully our middle daughter, who lives with us and worked from home shopped for us and our neighbour. We are used to outdoor trips, walks, swims and church,so it started to tell on us.
I am a painter of pictures and Susan my wife suggested we paint a seaside scene on our back garden wall, which as you see we did. Then Leo (Varadkar) was saying we might be able to go for a 5 km walk, so while we were waiting for the official announcement, we devised plan B, an escape route.
Sharing with our friends, neighbours and family through social media kept us going, laughing all the way.”
Music by Ludovico Einaudi
“Here’s my contribution to your Articulate initiative! It’s Ludovico Einaudi and the reason his music has helped me through the pandemic is that it can lift me up and calm me down all at one time. I love it. It’s like being told a beautiful story. It’s like being on a journey with a wonderful friend. I always listen to it and always feel connected.”
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
“My name is Anne. I’m a poet and creative writing tutor. I live on an old farm some miles outside of Garvagh, so lockdown has meant almost complete isolation for me. As a writer, I already spend quite a lot of time on my own, but the changing shape of the world - and the sudden falling away of structures, routines and personal contact - has taken a bit of getting used to.
Initially, two things were of real help to me during this time: the countryside and the burgeoning spring. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have space and freedom to enjoy this most richly nourishing time of the year. It’s this love of nature which draws me to a book which has been a constant source of comfort and reassurance during this time of lockdown - ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ by the poet Wendell Berry.
In a past life I ran this farm, so my own writing focuses largely on nature and the changing times of rural Ulster‘s farming communities. Wendell Berry’s collection of poems about the land and about life - written as a farmer and one of the greatest poets of our generation - is a delight.
As much of the structured timing of our world disappeared, I’ve turned to reading and re-reading this book. I’ve found Berry’s quiet love of nature and his steady reminder that we’re part of the larger natural world (with its patient, generous seasons) gives me a sense of perspective. Of appreciation. And of belonging. This is a book which both helps and heals - and it’s perfect for reading outdoors on a warm summer evening. I can’t recommend it highly enough!”
Hope Corner Community Project
“Portrush Rocks set up an area called Hope Corner in Portrush on the wall at the end of West Strand. Everyone and anyone are invited to paint and leave to rock to show their appreciation and thanks to the NHS, essential and Keyworkers.
I regularly go down to Hope Corner to take photos of the added rocks to post onto the Portrush Rocks Facebook page for others to see. On one occasion I met a local elderly man during lockdown, who told me he loves taking a walk every day to see what rocks have been added, he takes photos of them to send to his daughter who is an NHS nurse in England.”
Nick Cave’s Push the Sky Away, Tom Waits’ Closing Time, Jeff Buckley’s Grace
“This is the art that's been helping me through lockdown. I may not be able to see a lot of my friends and family, but Nick, Jeff and Tom are good company in the mean time.“
Making textile scrubs and masks for the NHS and frontline workers
“I have been making scrubs and masks for the NHS and the frontline workers in our community. We have been part of a team called NI Scrubs Causeway Coast. My friend in Zanzibar sent me all these beautiful fabrics from Stone Town, Zanzibar. Each fabric is special and has a Swahili proverb printed onto it. The orange one in the background says- Wema Hauozi - Kindness [good deeds] never goes bad. They will receive their reward. It is like storing something. Even if you forget the good deed, the one who received your kindness will not forget .
I have been getting through Covid-19 by getting my sewing machine out to the garden with RTE 1 Irish radio station to keep me sane and sewing for people in our community.”
“Drawing has helped me relax during these worrying times as being a keyworker in Tesco is stressful during this time period. It helped me take a break from what's going on in the world and focus on something positive. This is a portrait of my springer spaniel.”
My Painting, 'Still Life'
“Since the beginning of this lockdown I've been drawn to the idea of bringing the outside in. Imagining life out in the world around us still happening ...in real time, enacted off polished surfaces, reflections of light on a cup, a jug, a vase of flowers. Exploring household items, remembering how these arrived on my shelves and in my cupboards. Thinking of the friends and family that gifted these to my home, the connections between vessels and home, symbols of plenty and memory and weaving these into my painting practice. Ive been using my painting practice to make sense of this waiting, hoping, holding your breath and being still. This painting for me accentuates the unlimited freedom in the sky above us, the growth of life that continues around us and the idea that we are all vessels, holding ourselves and our families together. These thoughts are deeply grounding and healing for me in these difficult times.”
'Still Life' (mixed media on canvas, 31.5 x 31.5cms)
Kaleea, Ballykelly (age 8)
“Hi, my name is Kaleea I am 8 years old. On lockdown I found arts and crafts has helped me a lot. I collected my favourite shells and customized them as you can see. This helped me to express my artistic skills and I really enjoyed this.”
Craft and Painting
“ I have decovered that I love mixed media creations while being in lock down.. I live in Ballybogey and work with adults with learning disabilities.... I have done loads of bottles and quiet a few mixed media on canvas, this is just an example.”
“Please find attached a cartoon I’d like to submit to the ‘Articulate’ online project. The background to this drawing is that I was thinking of all the men who (like myself) must be missing their barbershops at the moment. In this cartoon I imagine them struggling with their hair as it grows into increasingly bizarre and fantastical shapes.”
"I work very quickly and when I am painting I only think about the work in front of me. I put on some music and close out all distractions, which has been so great during the last few months.”
In the context of the damage caused by COVID 19 to us humans; we require – as a matter of urgency –solidarity and collaboration amongst nations. The virus has caused a threat to life and an impoverishment of the people. We should be able to build from this setback a new order and better international policies.
Our world is full of wealth, it belongs to all and we are here to share in peace,leaving behind selfishness and live in fraternal love and will to collaborate.
(Technique: Oil on canvas with incorporation of 2 digitalized images)
“I love reading as it gives me a sense of being somewhere else. It certainly is my escapism. Over the past few weeks I have read some fantastic books from authors which are new to me, one being a local (hurrah Maggie O’Farrell, ‘Hamnet’).
‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens is certainly my favourite read of the year so far.“
“This is a pencil portrait of my husband Simon . It was very relaxing and took my mind away from the anxiety about all our circumstances.”
The Connemara Suite, Bill Whelan
“My name is Harry. Since this time two years ago I have been dreaming an unfulfilled dream to join other artists on a small island off the coast of Connemara. Each year artists from around the world, but mostly from Ireland, are invited to spend a creative week on Inishlacken. Last year I was unable to join the fun for family reasons; this year a pesky virus has messed things up for everybody.
I first read about the now uninhabited island in James MacIntyre’s memoir, “Three Men on an Island”, where he recounts summer days of 1951 spent in the company of artists Gerard Dillon and George Campbell. The creative spirit of those days has been regenerated by Rosie McGurran RUA and lives on in her Inishlacken Project.
When the lockdown began, I couldn’t get myself going in my garage studio. No energy, no inspiration. That is, until I came across Bill Whelan’s Connemara Suite and the three orchestral movements making up his Inishlacken concerto for two violins. Since that music trigger got me painting again, I’ve completed paintings inspired by the three movements. Producing them over the last four or five weeks has kept alive the bucket list thought that I might make it to Inishlacken next year. This painting is the first of two inspired by his second movement. It’s called, “The Island Terns”.
“I have felt unable to continue my usual felting during lockdown, it seems too normal a thing to be doing when nothing else is normal. I did need to do something with my hands to distract from the overwhelming anxiety but also just to get 'unstuck' as at times I felt frozen in time, waiting for the world to 'begin' again.
I recently attended the 'weave against plastics' workshops at Flowerfield Arts Centre which were halted by lockdown which revived my interest in basketry and as I have willow growing in my garden, I decided to see if I could improve.
I find the process of weaving calming and meditative with the evidence of time moving forward tangible in your hands, but also spiralling upward to a sense of accomplishment on completion.
I have always admired the French beauricou or perigord baskets and found a few tutorials online which I studied.
I didn't have enough willow available to me to allow for the inevitable mistakes while figuring this weave out but I did have paper in the form of old magazines, kept because they contained a craft project, or recipe, or gardening tips....so the rolling of paper straws began. I have not perfected this weave but I know more about what not to do!
All this work took place outdoors, taking full advantage of the very welcome fair weather we have been experiencing. When the weather was too cold I unearthed the wool stash.
Inheriting my mother's sewing box, button box, hooks and needles and in particular one double-ended bone crochet hook, was what stirred my desire to create again. She tried many other hooks but always reverted to this one hook...
At that time of grieving I wanted to re-engage with the skills my mother gave me, to follow the strokes she taught me with the tools she left me. So I crocheted hats and scarves for my own daughter with the hook that held her memory.
Now I held the hook again in a time of distress and began to mark time and move through it with wool and stitch, each stitch moving forward, then spiralling upward to finish a basket, then another and another...
So these baskets have distracted me, engaged me and helped me to process and progress through these strangest of times.
Although they are empty they have within them my worries, fears, hopes and memories.”
"We are born makers. We move what we're learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands." Brené Brown
Patricia & Logan, Derry/Londonderry
“I have been thinking about this and decided to send this image. It's something I’ve done with my son, Logan, who is 7 years old.
I had seen a photo of it done on bigger rocks rather than the little stones we used, so I improvised with what we had at home and added in glitter to the paint etc.
The purpose I chose this, is because it was creative for a non-arts person but more-so because it was something we enjoyed doing together.”
Ellen (age 10), Limavady
Painting and creating
Ellen has been drawing, painting and using her tablet to animate every day during lockdown. She says “When I was painting this I was thinking of how Covid19 had a tight grip on the world, and how powerful it is (hence it being a dragon). The dagon’s strange spikes down its back are supposed to show it’s made of corona virus and the spikes on its head symbolise the ‘crown’ of its name.”
“I have selected this artwork as it reflects the joy I gain from creativity and exploring the beauty of the natural world, especially wildflowers. I am also passionate about photography, and enjoy capturing the wonderful landscape that we are very blessed to have on our doorstep.
I am one of many who have been furloughed since Covid-19, and just before it had taken hold, thanks to the generosity of a customer from my work, after the sad passing of her Mother she donated a beautiful selection of her watercolour paints and paper to me. I haven’t used watercolours since my student days, as I mainly worked in acrylics and oils, so I might never have had the desire and motivation to get back into my painting again, if it wasn’t for the circumstances of Covid-19 and the kindness of a lovely customer.
I am very grateful that out of these challenging and uncertain times, I was presented with the opportunities to further embrace my creativity and appreciate the escapism and enlightenment that it can bring. I have been inspired by my recent paintings, and look forward to continue creating more watercolours.”
Clem and Roberta, Magilligan
Beachcombing and collecting natural finds
“We travel overseas a lot in our work and even when we are at home we are away two or three times each week. So it has been unusual for us to be at home together every day. We are able to continue our normal activities electronically and, as far as possible, creatively, but need time to relax, recharge and change our orientation.
Living behind Benone beach and sand dunes, we would walk there quite often, as well as to other places in normal times, but now we spend time there almost every day. It has been eerily empty and we have been fortunate to have better than average weather. So the sea and the sand, the sandhills and the cliffs have become our canvas on which we see more closely nature filling the canvas as spring progresses.
We look out for the rabbits; we have seen a fox; we have counted the cuckoos (5 at one time – is this a record?); we have occasional passing ducks (spoonbill and shellduck); we watch the river change its course as it moves across the sand; we photograph the flowers and found some mushrooms; the cliffs have become lush and green with budding trees while the sand hills have become brown and parched for want of rain; we have picked up shells and made nice arrangements at home; we have seen more of our neighbours who are also out more.
All of this we might have done in the past but not with the same intensity or close observation. And we return refreshed to our work. We are learning the richness of our own neighbourhood and the huge benefits of slow living. We are not alone in this. May we all be careful that we do not lose the value of slow living when we are able to go where we want and do what we like without sufficient thought or care for the planet.“
Caroline, Buncrana, Donegal
Celebrating nature through drawing and writing poetry
“I found that during the lockdown phase here, living on my own, that creativity and going for walks in nature was what kept me sane. i joined an online poetry group and an online 'draw inspired by nature' group.Going for daily walks, slowing down in life and observing and appreciating my local natural environment in a deeper way became a regular anchor to my days.And then either writing a poem or drawing sometimes afterwards and seeing others' contributions, so varied, rich and original, became something to look forward to.
Nearby there is a wood with wild garlic in it, I was eating the leaves daily in my salads,and i sketched a bunch of garlic flowers one day with chalk pastels. the little vase was painted by my granddaughter as a present some years ago,and as i wasn't able to see her or the rest of my family as they lived too far away, it was a symbol of connecting to them for me.
I am happy to say that after nearly 3 months,there is an easing of restrictions now,so we met up outdoors last night, which made us all very happy!”
“During lockdown I found I had more time, things I have always love or wanted to do, from growing vegetables, painting, modelling clay but I have found a love of pyrography. These things have helped me in many ways. They relax me and take me to new places.“
“I’m a language teacher and artist from Ballymoney. I’m recovering from illness and have found it difficult to concentrate while painting. Instead, I’ve been flower arranging which combines my love of gardening and colour with the opportunity to do something creative. I’ve never been on a flower arranging course so I look forward to doing that as things return to normal.“
Javiera, Franco and Amaranta, Santiago de Chile
“During the pandemic we have dedicated time to dance, cook, do homeworks and crafts with our 4 year old daughter.
These are dinosaurs we created with recycled cardboards and paper. We did it to surprise our neighbour Santiago on his 6th birthday.
We practiced her fine motor skills, concentration, creativity and most important of all; we taught our little girl that in spite of social distancing we could be present in the important moments of the people we love.
And we could also demonstrate that for that we do not need to spend money. “
An Epidemic of Control Talk, Rebel Wisdom YouTube Channel, featuring author and speaker Charles Eisenstein (known for his books Sacred Economics and The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible)
“The whole Covid 19 situation has been an often overwhelming rollercoaster, with many, many dips on the ride. Being cut off from seeing family and friends was difficult, as was the growing necessity to use the digital world to communicate. The online world can be a difficult place to navigate, sometimes dark, often noisy and even cruel. The mainstream media also started inducing in both myself and close friends and family feelings of panic, fear, confusion and even despair.
Watching this talk certainly offered me some light during the darkest moments. I actually featured the talk on an in-depth discussion on my radio show on Drive 105 with Canadian journalist Ric Mullen, in an effort to lift and inspire listeners, offering a little hope perhaps for a better future and a better world.
Hoping you enjoy it as much.”
Observing, Painting & Drawing Nature
“At the start of lock down time did something strange, at first it opened up, a huge empty plain but quickly it filled up; the radio, statistics swirling round, worries about my business, and listening, listening to my anxieties and those of my friends, my family, the world. Meanwhile, a bucket of potatoes in the boot of my car, abandoned when I parked up for the last time, got busy. In that bucket, in each and every potato, nature was asserting itself, demonstrating its unstoppable force, its extraordinary power of recovery. A bucketful of hope.“
“My mantra for lockdown was Stay crestive, saving my mind. Working with old pieces of wood including carving a clock into a piece of wood from a cherry tree. Wood I had stored from before, saying one day I would do something with them. Decorating my hall stairs and landing ...such a BIG job. I had to leave my work to look after my parents ..wouldn't have it any other way ...miss my work and friends ....arts & crafts are my time.“
LCDI, Limavady Community Development Initiative
Drawing, Woodwork, Crafting and Crocheting
The participants at the LCDI, Limavady Community Development Initiative, have been getting weekly newsletters with arts and crafts activities that they have been doing during lockdown.
Alicia Villanueva, Peru
Drawing and Painting
It’s been a little over three months since quarantine was implemented in my country and I was faced with the challenge of planning activities to keep me and one of my children occupied during this time of complete isolation. Doing exercises was imperative, then drawing, painting, knitting, jigsaw puzzles, reading, domestic chores, and of course connecting with family, daughters and friends online.
I have enjoyed drawing so much since secondary school that I did a year in Visual Arts in the Catholic University after leaving school. My subsequent studies in psychology then allowed me to connect back and work with women in economic or artistic activities.
After a little over a year without paid work I decided to return to drawing and painting. With the support of a teacher over eight classes, I got the hang of the paintbrush again and for the first time learned the technique of painting on acrylic. I painted a few pieces myself, and in the process, felt the old joy of painting come back to me. During quarantine I dedicated most of my painting to flowers and faces. This painting that I’m sharing was done in the middle of quarentine, and was inspired by a photo I took in Puno, of craft women with whom I worked with over a number of years. Puno is mountainous region in the Southern Highlands of Peru. It’s one of the most populated and poorest provinces that are over 4,000 metres above sea level. It is considered the folklore capital of Peru.
Thank you to Sandra Collins for translating the above text from Spanish to English.