|ReVERSEtablo, 2' x 4', acrylic on board, April-June, 2020|
The day after Bryan’s 50th birthday, the first ever to be spent in quarantine, I began a piece that would direct my artistic process for the next year. Devoting my days to this elaborate rendering became my therapy, occupying my time, keeping the grim reality of the world at bay.During the early days of quarantine I began revisiting my early artistic influences, consuming every documentary I could find on Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo. I found myself inspired by a quote from Pablo’s son Claude claiming that his father only painted from memory, if he had seen something, he could paint it. I liked this idea of exploring memory and thought back to the most comforting and familiar thought I could, my grandmother seated at her dining room table (where she spent the majority of every day), consumed in a romance novel. Jean was an avid reader, I counted one summer and she’d average a book every day and a half, all romance novels (I’d search for juicy bits when she’d leave a copy in the bathroom).
Inspired by “Jean the Original Isolation Queen” I sketched out the view from own most frequently occupied seat in our house, capturing what would become the norm going forward - days filled listening to music, with my favourite performers traveling live across the planet from their own living room to mine, in this case Sean Rowe from New York state, where he has been hosting weekly performances throughout the pandemic to earn enough to keep afloat.
By April of 2020 I hadn’t seen my mom in a few weeks and from the sound of it it was going to be months before I would again. To comfort myself I painted her seated at my step-father’s childhood kitchen table at “the cottage” preparing her arthritis medication, as she does every night. I’ve come to realize that I’m incredibly well suited to the quarantine lifestyle, thanks to these original isolation queens.
The morning of April 19th we awoke a bit worse for wear from a quarantine birthday well spent, only to discover that the province had experienced its first mass murder, with many lives taken in Portapique.
Growing up I doodled eyes all the time. Eyes, spirals and triangles were my go to as I filled the edge of a page of the phone book or junk mail, while chatting away on the phone. This memory seemed like a good starting point to fully explore my social isolation bubble, creating a window into my shrinking world, starting from the inside and working my way out.
For three months I built onto my creation daily, starting with a rendering of these four walls that surround me, flowing out into the thoughts that were weighing heavily on my mind at the time, like the wildfires in Australia and the ever creeping tides threatening the shores of the Avon.
As the days passed world events became more and more unbelievable. I made notes in my journal and added the more positive aspects of my reality to my visual time capsule. The arrival of our geese, Gertrude and Bernard, the spawning gaspereau finally free to travel the Avon River (however short lived), taking the time to thoroughly enjoy a brief showering of tetrahedron hail, and the miraculous seemingly never ending sunset that took place during the vigil for those lost in Portapique.As we all politely followed our civic duty to “stay the blazes home” I longed for the missing portion of my life, my friends and the museum in Avondale where I’m employed each summer. Our building sits perched on the edge of a shore that is met twice daily by the highest tides in the world. On April 7th an extreme tide overwhelmed the berm and the water circled around and across the road, settling just inches from the front door.
The Avon and her tides have been a constant source of inspiration and anxiety for me over the last 8 years, since I started working with the Avon River Heritage Society, so it’s no big surprise that it’s the river that connects all aspects of my life, in reality and in my imagined rendering.
As the spring passed I envisioned myself in Avondale and made it a goal to complete this piece on location. As luck would have it my wish was fulfilled in a roundabout way in June.
Unfortunately we were not able to open the museum to the public in 2020, but we were successful in securing funding for two students, however they required supervision. Due to a lack of revenue I was unemployed for the majority of the year, but thanks to the CERB funding I was able to volunteer my time to oversee the students in exchange for studio space. I took over the cafe, which overlooks the mighty Avon, and I was able to fulfil my vision and complete my social isolation bubble panel.
|Detail: Amanda Palmer, crying on her 44th birthday, live from Aotearoa|
Now, over ten months later I find myself back at home in my bubble, exploring ideas around memory, once again unsure of what the future holds. With Christmas essentially cancelled for 2020 I instead decided to mark the occasion and update my view from social isolation after noting that there had been a number of changes to the space since that first rendering from April 5th, 2020. This new creation “The Twelve Days of Christmas” spawned a companion series to the ReVERSEtablo panel and since then I’ve completed approximately one painting a week highlighting a different perspective from confinement, preserving forever these memories from this era of adaptation.