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Art and Design, Home, Inspirational things to do, Kiss House Team, Lockdown, Online resources, Wellbeing in the home, Wellness  |  17 September 2020

Our changing relationship with creativity.

Lockdown rug by Emma Bradbury
Pastels
Ella CLocksin 2020, Blackbird
Ella Clocksin 2020, "Perceptual Field" Birdsong 7
Lockdown blanket by Emma Bradbury
Painting with slices of toast
Still life inspiration
Making decorative, marbled eggs via Yodomo
Arts Council England
Crafts Council logo
Creativity in lockdown — Emma's daughters
Grayson's Art Club, Channel 4

Emma Bradbury explores how lockdown has changed our relationship to creativity.

She talks about the move to being creative online; looks at research that shows more of us are getting creative than ever before; online courses and resources from the Craft Council and considers how we can support artists and makers. 

During the last six months as we’ve grappled with physical isolation, society has become more aware of the positive impact on health and wellbeing offered by engaging in creative pursuits.

“Art can set you free.”

Louis Netter, Senior Lecturer in Illustration, University of Portsmouth

In his article, “The importance of arts in the coronavirus,” Louis Netter, Senior Lecturer in Illustration at the University of Portsmouth looks at why the arts were so attractive during the peak of lockdown for “The Conversation”. He commented, “Art can set you free. People on social media are sharing favourite Netflix playlists, songs, videos and even artwork to reach out beyond isolation and share what they love… In this time of restriction, art connects us to the foreign, the exotic and the impossible — but in our current context, it also connects us to a world where anything is possible. A world out of our grasp for now.”

The creative response to lockdown was phenomenal. Artists, musicians, actors came together to stream a string of tutorials, workshops and performances from their homes as a way to help others, while being physically estranged from each other.

Creative hobbies.

The concept of being connected during a time when we were physically disconnected from our nearest and dearest can help to explain why so many people learned new crafts and adopted creative hobbies. The Washington Post published an article on how people stuck at home (werefinding new space for creativity.” They asked readers how they were spending their time during selfisolationRespondents had used their time to learn or perfect a craft, play an instrument, cook new things, learn new online graphic design skills or set up various online classes to create an online community in their craft. Unsurprisingly, new enrolments to the Virtual Art Academy sky-rocketed with five times more admissions this year than any other year in the past 13 years.

Creativity online.

Our online usage certainly increased at the height of the pandemic. According to The New York Times, use of YouTube rose by 15.3%. The Search Engine Journal reporting on surveys by Channel Factory, claimed consumers were on the look-out for uplifting, useful and educational materials on YouTube. Tony Chen, CEO and Founder of the Channel Factory said. “YouTube has seen a surge in viewers that are looking to get good news.” YouTube have created their own channel on their platform and some of their most popular Stay Home #WithME categories featured, “Jam with me”,” Draw with me” and, ”Craft with me.”

Funding for the Arts in lockdown.

“Through creativity and culture, we will heal.”

Darren Henley, CEO, Arts Council England

The Arts were hugely important to many people during this pandemic. Darren Henley, CEO, Arts Council England had said: “Through creativity and culture, we will heal.” Unsurprisingly, there was a huge drive from organisations and governing bodies to support the arts community. Arts Council England made £160 million of emergency funding available for people and organisations within the arts who need financial support.

One such artist who benefited from public funding is Ella Clocksin who was one of twelve artists selected for an Arts Council funded At Home residency by arts charity Jelly, based in Reading. The residency was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England to help artists pause and breathe in a lockdown space.  

The funding supported project Perceptual Field started by Ella in lockdown, it is centred around the sounds of birdsong in ancient woodland on Shotover Hill in Oxford, and her home studio. The project brings to life the acoustic shapes, patterns, rhythms and movement of birdsong through the medium of paint, in real time. When the world went still, the sound of the birds was amplified, and it was a sound appreciated by many. The Perceptual Field project analysed the boundaries and overlaps between visuality and hearing, between drawing and painting, and between neurology and poetics examining illegible script and mute forms of communication that remain un-translatable, or beyond transcription into formal language. It was part of a wider group residency where each artist was given the opportunity to collaborate remotely with another artist in the group, with shared conversation about differing practices. Projects such as these were only made possible with funding. You can find out more about Jelly’s “At Home” residency hereElla talks in detail about her project and her process here.  

The Crafts Council who are responsible for advancing craft in the UK were in close contact with the Arts Council to ensure that the needs of the crafts sector are fully represented. They were doing their part in promoting craft in the UK during this time, suggesting a wide range of skills that could be learnt during this difficult period. This included recommendations of a number of course providers in crafting, textiles and more.

As restrictions tighten again and we are once more in a position where we many of us cannot see our loved ones, you benefit from a new hobby and may find some inspiration from extracts from the Crafts Council article below — first published in full at the height of the lockdown.

Upskill in isolation. 

By the Crafts Council

Online courses and resources

“Craft has the power to stimulate, inspire, occupy and soothe us.”

The Crafts Council

Online craft courses are not a new phenomenon but the platforms offering them are coming into their own now that people are looking for ways to occupy themselves at home.

  • Creative Live offers several courses in needlecraft, papercraft and jewellery design, as well as in marketing, sales and operating successfully on Etsy
  • The tutors on Craft Courses are also now turning en-masse towards teaching virtual classes
  • Udemy and Domestika have a range of courses geared towards improving your business and professional skills
  • Recruitment service Reed has a list of courses that give you CPD points and professional accreditation in stitching, floristry and more
  • Art Girl Rising, a campaign that supports women in art, has sessions on marketing and selling your art, building an online community and the business of art

How you can support the craft community.

“We can support these communities by buying from them directly and participating.”

Rosy Greenlees

Despite funding in some areas many artists’ sources of income have been lost. Rosy Greenlees commented in a recent report for the Crafts Council on the future market of craft.  

She said “A quarter of makers are facing a negative impact from Brexit on their business, and many makers will be in a precarious situation in a post-pandemic world  losing not only their opportunities to sell their work, but also other sources of income for example teaching and hosting workshops.” 

We can support these communities by buying from them directly, participating in their online workshops and engaging with their social media accounts: 

Crafts Council 

The Crafts Council directory is not a retail platform but an ideal place to research and learn about UK craft makers. 

Own Art 

Own Art Scheme is an organisation that provides 0% loans to help purchase art. 

Yodomo 

Online courses run by Craftspeople sharing their skills. 

Stitch by Stitch

During the pandemic, interior textiles company Stitch by Stitch hosted a series of conversations on Instagram Live. Textile Talks runs twice a week on a Tuesday and Thursday; they are informal chats with textile designers and brands where Stitch by Stitch directors Graham Hollick or Karen Sear Shimali ask designers to talk about their work and how they are dealing with the current situation. 

Selvedge

A magazine dedicated to the textile industry with insightful stories about the history of textiles and introduction to independent designer makers.  

The Selvedge World Fair

A Virtual celebration of cloth, culture and creativity presents the work of over 100 artisans, bringing together varied textile traditions from more than 60 countries. The talks are available to watch here for a small fee. 

Online Resources.

We hope you’ve found the excerpts the Crafts Council kindly allowed us to publish, inspiring and informative. 

Below we’ve listed some of the Kiss House team’s favourite online resources: 

Rob Biddulph #DrawwithRob 

Family friendly, simple step by step tutorials with writer and illustrator Rob Biddulph. Watch and learn how he draws some of the characters from his books.  

Draw and paint for kids with designer Bluebell Grey 

A series of IGTV tutorials and paint-a-longs with artist and designer Fi Douglas.  

Isolation Art School  

Be inspired by artists such as Quentin Blake and Jonothan Yeo via these inspiring IGTV art tutorialsand get an insight into their creative practice and studio spaces. 

Tussen Kunsten Quarantaine 

Recreate famous paintings using items from your home.

Grayson Perry Art Club  

On UK Channel 4 nowwith online catch up on More4. 

STORE Projects 

Association of artists, architects and designers working with socially engaged educational programmes. Interesting and diverse digital tutorials and workshops. 

The Writing Squad 

Inspired by Mass Observation (the social research project that existed from the 1930s50s), Squad writers have been recording their daily experience of the new world that began on 23rd March 2020. 

TOAST 

Online tutorials and inspiration. To attend there is a suggested a donation of £5. This goes towards the Crafts Council UK, supporting makers and creatives. 

We hope we’ve helped give your creativity a boost. We’d like to thank the UK Craft’s Council for letting us reprint their article. 

Best wishes 

Emma 

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