My first blog on the impact of Coronavirus acknowledged that many people are struggling with their very basic needs for safety and survival, but even in these times, a sense of connection to others is vitally important for our wellbeing. Creativity and beauty in all their forms are essential parts of what makes us human and bring meaning to our lives. A world without art and artists would be a sad and diminished place, so I’ve been thinking about how artists and art lovers can support each other, even now.
Being kind, reaching out and connecting with others and valuing what really matters are some of the good things we are looking for in these difficult times. There is a wonderful creative energy for sharing art, music and beauty in new ways. Much of this is about making things freely available to everyone, offering opportunities to see fantastic art, theatre and music through online media, or supporting people to create for themselves, with whatever materials they have. It is also about supporting the artists of all kinds who make our lives richer through their work. I want to share some practical examples of how both artists and art lovers can make a difference by supporting each other. I’ll put some links at the end of this piece.
Keeping in touch with people we love is vital and I, for one, am sending physical cards through the post far more often than I used to. Being able to buy cards from artists I know, whose work I love, means so much more than having to buy cards from one of the online giants. Artists, including some who were uncertain initially whether they should be selling their merchandise, have been finding ways to keep up their stocks of cards and get them delivered safely to customers who want to buy them.
Meaningful gifts are very important to many of us at the moment, for the big occasions, birthdays and anniversaries, when it is so heartbreaking not to able to be there in person. I’ve also sent a couple of small pieces to friends ‘just because’ in these difficult times. Once again they mean much more when I know the artist who has made them. I really appreciate being able to buy a small print, or coffee mug or a cushion, or a tiny piece within my budget.
These kinds of products and ways of selling may not be appropriate or even possible for every artist, but to any artist who can sell small gifts in this way, I would encourage you to share what you can offer with potential customers. To anyone looking for a gift for others, or as a treat for yourself, please consider taking the time to look at local artists and see what they have on offer. Many artists also offer commissions. What more meaningful a gift could you find for someone you love than a unique piece made just for them?
Many of us are thinking about what we can do to help others at the present time. Artists are gifting their skills in lots of different ways: reducing their prices to make their work more accessible; donating some or all of their profits to a charity of their choice; painting a specific piece to be sold or auctioned for a chosen charity; painting a portrait of an NHS hero, or pledging to support another artist with some of the funds raised from selling their own work at a discounted price. Artists have shared with me the satisfaction and sense of purpose they have found by joining in with some of these initiatives. For some, it has also been a personal challenge to step out of their comfort zone and try new styles and subjects for their work.
For art lovers, there are so many online exhibitions to enjoy, from major national galleries and the most prestigious international art fairs to online exhibitions from local galleries and individual artists. Artists I know have set about taking their IT skills to a higher level and learning to use new tools to share their work remotely and I very much admire them for it. Even if you are not able to buy anything from the collections shown, they are the result of a great deal of hard work. A positive comment about a piece of work is a lovely way of giving an artist your support and would be much appreciated, now more than ever.
Making art or craft, creating something unique, is a real joy for many people. It would, I believe, be so for most people if they just had the confidence to try it, enjoy the process and refuse to stress about the outcome or compare themselves to others. It can support our mental wellbeing and is even more important for children. Artists are helping other people to ‘have a go’ at making art themselves in all kinds of ways – from delivering craft packs alongside food parcels for children in need - to an enormous range of video tutorials and YouTube clips -to opportunities to join online workshops and courses. By now some of us have got through all the house tidying, garden and DIY jobs we wanted to get done and are running out of box sets. Trying something new, whether it’s listening to a concert, watching some ballet, joining in with a choir remotely, or taking an online art and craft workshop may be one of the things you are very glad you did during this time. If you already know the value of working with an artist to learn a new skill, then carrying on doing this online is a very real way to help these wonderful teachers put food on the table during this crisis.
I hope this piece has encouraged both artists and art lovers to recognise the value of what you can do to support each other and perhaps a few new ideas of practical things you haven’t thought of. The links below are just a few ideas for people who find it overwhelming or spend hours trawling the internet without finding what they are looking for.
The list is a personal one: things I like, have found useful and particularly, what I know from my Living from Art members. I’m always happy to share links and ideas of other things if you want to share them with me.
Anna Poulton firstname.lastname@example.org 07747032912
Fundraising and other online challenges
Many other individual artists and galleries donating profits/auctioning work for different charities often through Facebook
Artists selling cards prints and other merchandise. – a very small selection of people who I know have stock and are making deliveries at present
Sarah Goddard On Etsy only at present
A small selection of local artists and galleries’ exhibitions online
Galleries selling worldwide
Singulart Look out for local artists Jenny Westbrook and Tony Davie
Connected from the Arts Society - lectures at home
Resources for Artists
Create Gloucestershire Finding creativity and connection in times of crisis – useful information.
Free 1:1 session to talk about the support Living from Art can offer at this time.
Teaching Art Online Meeting 21/5 7 – 9 tickets and details on the website
Facebook/LivingfromArt – a free, closed group for artists of all kinds to connect and share information and support
Community and children’s activities
Art Playground is a good Facebook page for listing local events and activities supporting creativity for people of all ages, including online resources
Creation Station Cheltenham group led by Artist Debbie Kersley is now offering online craft sessions for pre -schoolers, resources packs and an online Friday drawing club for primary age children