Artists in Lockdown – Meredith Marsone

We were due to move to a new town the weekend after the lockdown began but something told me in the weeks leading up that we should hurry and move sooner. It felt paranoid at the time. Earlier, just the week before, none of this was on our radar. But we did it, the Friday before, running all over Wellington collecting trademe furniture and whiteware, then driving it up to our new house. We started to get settled then the level 3/4 was announced and so my husband drove back to Wellington, stuffed the station wagon with the last of our belongings and the teenagers crammed in there, too. It felt like they came crashing home at almost midnight on the Monday night, falling across the finishing line, chased by baddies, slaying the final boss on the last level of the game. We lay in bed that night feeling waves of relief that we were safe and together. So we are 7, here in a much larger house, happily safe and sound for the lockdown.
But that definitely poses it’s own demands and constraints that aren’t always that conducive to painting. I was accustomed to the school day freedom of being only with my own thoughts and paintbrushes for 5 hours a day. Now with the house bustling and an active chattering five year old, priorities had to change. I’ve managed to get one painting finished and another well on the way. But the quiet required for flow has been hard to come by.
I’ve been wondering how life as an artist will look over the next little while. My solo in Feb/March, which I’d been painting for 6 months to prepare, was definitely affected. Foot traffic was down, final expected sales didn’t come through. And all the shows lined up for the rest of the year either cancelled or moved online will change the trajectory somewhat.
Personally, I’m welcoming the changes this disruption brings. I don’t want to undermine the pressures and pain some people are going through but there are always upsides in any kind of change. Perhaps we become more locally focussed in our spending. Perhaps we travel less and spend more time with our families. Working from home may become a permanent option for some. Growing food and foraging could replace a portion of long travelled food. Slowing down has given us time to think, to breathe, to just be. And on a whole, I like it. It feels wholesome, reasonable, considered. Life in the city for me was compressed, loud, lip-biting anxiety. And that’s something I won’t be rushing back to now I’ve seen a different way of being.

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