Now on the cusp of reopening as the lockdown restrictions start to be lifted, we have been looking back to see how we want to move forward. Amongst all the loss and sadness, there have been some silver linings.
Like a forest caught in a fire, we survive and start to grow again. Not necessarily in the same way, but we develop all the same. The great thing about being human is that, to a certain degree, we can choose how we want to evolve. So let's not forget the lessons we have learnt and try to carry them forward into our new everyday lives.
In the long hours of lockdown, people have once again fallen in love with the simple pleasures of art & craft. Some have returned to sewing, upcycling clothes, making quilts, creating textile-based artworks. Others have been making with paper mache, weaving or sculpting. Easily accessible and cheap most have returned to drawing or painting.
It is easy to understand why a huge percentage of the population has embraced the opportunity to be creative. Well known amongst psychologists, creativity helps us deal better with uncertainty by allowing us to handle stress and anxiety of changes. Working with our hands also gives us a sense of physical purpose when our regular routines have disappeared. It enables us to express ourselves rather than holding everything in and takes us into a happier zone which in turn enhances our well being with feelings of accomplishment and pride.
When our work is shared with like-minded people, these benefits are doubled. Engaging with others is particularly important when isolated. Increased social connection leads to an improved sense of well being and psychological health in general. In these strange times, when we have been limited to digital connections, we have seen a fantastic ability to adapt our lives with regular zoom chats, webinars and using social media to chat, learn and engage.
One of our favourite TV programmes throughout the lockdown has been Grayson Perry's art club. Now the darling of English eccentricity, Perry has had a rough ride in the past. A turner prize winner in 2003 he suffered the persecution that negative press can bring for openly sharing his differences and feelings. Thankfully society has moved on from being so blind, and this unique contemporary artist, writer and broadcaster now has a firm place in our hearts.
Famous for dissecting British "prejudices, fashions and foibles" he has had the platform to change a nation's perception and encourage them to be as imaginative and expressive as they want. By taking away the labels of good and bad, he has asked us to embrace every idea or revelation. He has also been able to remove the archaic notion that 'Art is not for us' and proved to a nation that we can all be equally creative in our own way. That we should embrace our mistakes, understand that all ideas are valid in art and put aside social pressure.
Let's not lose sight of this valuable lesson...