March 31, 2019

How to carry on appreciating art and supporting artists during this pandemic

As an artist I am fascinated by the Digital age that we are living through, it has been likened to the industrial revolution in terms of its impact on society and the way we live our lives. However in recent weeks digital interactions have become even more relevant as the Corona Virus pandemic impacts all our lives.  Suddenly people are facing the challenges of working from home, replacing human interactions with digital interactions on social media and apps like Facetime. Many  of the older generation are having to learn new digital skills as they go into isolation. 

For those interested in the Arts and culture, whether as an artist or someone who enjoys art there are a number of digital opportunities. In this Blog I have highlighted how people can continue to view, appreciate and participate in art as well as support artists online.

The Guardian newspaper recently put together an article listing the top ten virtual tours of galleries and museums…

I wanted to compile a list of places to visit while we are socially distancing, but to also compare the online experience with that of a visit. Having travelled to Amsterdam in January and been lucky enough to visit the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, I was keen to see how their online experience compares to a physical visit.

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum have developed something called this online gallery of Van Gogh’s paintings allows you to get closer to the work than would be possible in the museum itself. You can closely appreciate Van Gogh’s use of colour and brush strokes, it also gives you a wonderful incite into his continual experimentation. I particularly love this image of a still life titled….Grapes, a small section of which is shown below. If you analyse the lines this shouldn’t work to depict a grape and yet it does!


Housing a wonderful collection by the Dutch masters..

The Rijksmuseum’s ‘Masterpieces Up Close’ is quite extraordinary, the online portal provides you with the next best thing to a personal visit to the museum. It describes the experience as like taking a walk through the gallery at your own pace. Not all of the work can be accessed, but there are video and audio links for several of the most important pieces.

One of the striking things that I found on visiting the museum was the size of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, which measures over 3 x 4 mtrs and how that contrasted with the closely observed works of Vermeer like The Milkmaid, which measures just 40 x 45cm!

The restoration work being undertaken on The Night Watch, is detailed and described here and the painting itself has been removed from its frame and placed in a huge glass box which houses a giant digital scanner.

To the right of The Night Watch is the enormous Militia Company District VIII by Bartholomeus van der Helst, which measures 7.5 mtrs long and from a practical point of view, I cannot image how in 1643 the painting was transported. I found this crowd fascinating particularly as the figures confront you as larger than life.

Hastings Contemporary Robot tours

Hastings contemporary have teamed up with Bristol robotics lab, to bring their audience the chance to visit the gallery via a two-wheeled video conferencing robot. You can sign up for a tour where the robot will take up to five people through a real time visit. The robot was developed by Double Robotics and I believe this is the first collaboration of its kind. So sign up by email to be one of the first people to experience this way of viewing a gallery.

Although seeing a work of art in person cannot be completely replaced, at least we can carry on even during this very difficult period to view and learn about the wonderful art collections on show around the world.

Creativity to help get through this difficult time. Online resources.

For those of you who don’t regularly draw or paint why not start. I have been researching online resources and came across this charcoal experiment

Although we are being told to stay at home you can still find source material images from recent holiday photographs or indeed sketching in the garden. I love Lewis’s approach to charcoal and his loose way of working, not getting hung up on the detail, just enjoying making marks. If you don’t have art supplies at home you can still purchase online from Cass Art  

Wonderful ideas for mark making. Can’t wait to get sketching and painting.

For my work I use stills from video footage and often use multiple layers of photography (screen capture) to work on the images that I eventually paint from. In some of my earlier pieces I tried to capture the feeling of being in a space in front of a screen by adding an additional layer, a way of showing the remote way I have accessed the images I work with. What my computer screen allows me to be is a stay at home traveller in space and time, able to access almost every corner of the world from my studio desk.

How to continue to support artists during this challenging time.

Your continued interest in my work and support during this period is much appreciated and I think we all agree that during challenging times the arts, in what ever form will help to see us through this.

With exhibitions and open studios cancelled at least artists can still showcase their work online. Some of the online galleries that I am involved with are Saatchi online and Rise art. Kellie Miller Arts in Brighton are also offering online services and will continue to showcase work including my new collection of work that I hope will be ready by June.

Before and after

The subject of many of my paintings are crowds moving through a space and it is extraordinary to think that these scenes have disappeared from our streets. I have heard it said that we will be talking in historical terms of BC (before Covid-19) and AC (after Covid-19). Living through something this historic is quite surreal and as artists we have to find a way to interpret this in our work. Can’t wait to see the response as I am sure it will be amazing.

Stay safe and stay home if you can..x