How Our Artists Are Staying Creative at Home | Pt. II
Editorial / Artists

How Our Artists Are Staying Creative at Home | Pt. II

18 May 2020

This week we dive into the second part of our artist catch-up. Keep reading for more on what Magnus Gjoen, Bonnie and Clyde, Mark Vessey, Nina Saunders and Mark Powell have been up to since the current global troubles began and their tips for anyone wishing to get in touch with their creative side right now.

Nina Saunders

"When you're coming up to a show everything has to go out and then you're on the next thing so I'm really enjoying having the time to revisit and explore old and new sculptural forms drawing them on leftover vinyls and leathers.Three big shows I have been working on have been put on hold till August 2021 - ironically one of them was titled 'Don't go out tonight!' I compensated by working on a small sculpture I haven't had time to focus on and it turns out he's become an amazing elephant-man titled 'Reincarnation'. The piece is about climate change and the world we are in and hope of changes."

Nina and Finn in her home studio

"For being cosy in the sofa, I have ignited a collective knitting project called 'Blankets of Many Colours' for the Calais refugees, to raise awareness and show solidarity. I have created a knitting-grid system where knitters anywhere can follow the grid and make individual squares that will be put together into blankets. Want to knit one? 30 stitches needle no 6."

Figures of White by Nina Saunders, oil on vinyl

As to how the current circumstances have influenced her practice Nina says: "Lockdown hasn't affected my creativity, surprisingly it has added new dimensions."And in terms of her tips on getting inspired: "Don't read The Sun newspaper and the Daily Mail!" she says, and:"Be playful, start by taking your socks off, pencil/crayon between two toes and start drawing anything, ANYTHING!! Being creative, sometimes it's good to go to a place that you feel good about. I used to love making mono-prints and am now revisiting it."
More in Hope by Nina Saunders,oil mono-print on paper

Mark Vessey

"I returned back home to Brighton from New York in March where I was showing my work for New York Scope. My parents had been looking after my dachshund Albus while I was away and unfortunately I wasn’t able to collect him before lockdown so I have found myself living alone without him. It’s now been 8 weeks without him which is crazy.Initially, I felt pretty uncertain of how the weeks were going to unfold but it's felt good to have the total space to reflect and stop. I found comfort in the fact Albus has been there for my parents in their lockdown but I do miss him." Obviously, we have to include a photo of Albus...
"I’m lucky to live very close to the sea in Brighton so I have had the sea to look at. My neighbours are mostly in their eighties so I have been buying shopping for them which makes me feel a connection to my community and happy to be able to help them. It makes me laugh some of the items they ask for such as cakes and ice-creams but I think small pleasures are even more important for us all right now."
Mark exhibiting his work at Scope Art Show, New York in March
"More than ever it’s been nice to stop and have the time to reflect on my work and practice. Once we are able to move freely again I would like to do more collaborations photographing other people's collections but for now I have been studying what I have in my space. It’s also been nice to pull off the many books I have on my shelfs to look and read through them. I’ve felt very grateful for what I have and its been nice to reconnect with other artists I admire."

Some books that have been inspiring Mark

What has helped keep Mark'sspirits up during these uncertain times?"Being by the sea I have started to do cold water swimming which has quickly become very addictive. I think I’ve been in over 6 times over the past week. My favourite swim was at 8.45pm with the full moon coming up and the sky reflecting on the sea. The colours of the water were incredible. It’s my happy place and brings me back into my body. I’ve also been running, the same as most of the country and taking walks along the seafront. Along with zoom yoga classes and mediation."

Cold water swims in the morning have helped keep Mark's spirits high

"As in my work, music is so important to me and I have been listening and making playlists which I find comforting. Reconnecting to albums such as Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Annie Lennox, Diva. Also connecting with other people's stories within the art world has made me feel connected to the art community. I have been listening to my favourite podcast talk ART."And Mark's creative tips:"I think getting creative is a great way to express yourself and allow your mind to be distracted. I’d say keep things simple. I like the idea of taking a photograph using it as a reference and making a drawing from it on whatever piece of paper you can find. I did a self portrait using highlighters and pen. I gave myself 30mins to draw it. I think not putting any pressure on yourself to achieve is great and can be really cathartic. So I guess limitations are good and to not over think it."

Mark's quick self-portrait using a pen and highlighters.

Bonnie and Clyde

"Like so many, I’ve been feeling pretty much on an emotional roller coaster.I feel like this incredible environment zero’s in causing intense personal reflection and clarity in the moments not paralysed by fear or sadness.I moved out of the studio into my home and I started working on a batch of small originals that I thought would be fun and a little light relief, but I found I needed a bigger challenge to occupy my mind away from the isolation situation" says Brighton based artist, Bonnie and Clyde.

Setting up her home studio

"I decided to start painting a large piece - social distance size haha - in my living room thinking it would be a diary. That didn't happen. What I have enjoyed with making this piece is the new ways of working and experimenting. I usually build large pieces on the computer first, whereas this time I purposefully stayed clear of that. It has made me adapt, that can only be a good thing and will probably change my work in the future. It's an optimistic feeling piece so far which surprised me but it seems to be the way my work occurs."

A mixed media piece by Bonnie and Clyde in progress...

"To keep me occupied I've been doing the pretty standard - yoga , zoom, Netflix & co, occasional baking, daily morning meditation. I also wanted to start making electronic music so bought a noise sequencer app for iPad, Yamaha Tenori-On and have been having fun making weird electronic beats."

"My fave thing has been the walks mainly on the beach 5 mins away which I'm extremely grateful for. Just staring out to sea is a great leveller on days of solitude. Whilst walking, I listen to my favourite teachers…Dr. Joe Dispenza whose meditations I follow, Dr. Sue Morter and her energy codes lectures; aiming to embody the teachings in this setting has been helpful. Abraham Hicks on youtube for the answers to my questions. In those moments shared with the sea and the pebbles I think of the bigger picture. I take photos of the sea every day. Its colours and shadows reflecting the mood."

"I have discovered the joys of zoom with friends and danced whilst painting to a united we stream all day rave party." The artist continues: "It was a bit glitchy but i appreciated the live element and connection to people a lot. It featured old friends and acquaintances from my Manchester party days so was a welcome escape.I think the main thing in these times is to look after yourself kindly and those around - reach out to people for help and to help. Connection and love."

Magnus Gjoen

"I have been lucky that most of the businesses I work with have remained open and been able to ship and deliver things even under lock-down. Although I usually enjoyed taking trips to approve and proof artworks at my printers, grabbing lunch or having a meeting at the same time, I’ve been surprised at how self-sufficient it has all been having everything delivered" Magnus says. The artistis inviting art-lovers to create their own masterpieces in lockdown with his new Art Therapy colouring-in set. The Art Therapy colouring-in set includesthree of the artist's most loved prints (with extra copies of each one to allow for a practice run)on fine archival paper, inspired by traditional pieces of Sèvres porcelain.

Magnus Gjoen's Art Therapy Colouring Set

On how lockdown has affected his work and how he hopes to inspire others with his project he says:"One can always get lost in beauty and art, it takes your mind away from the current and offers solace and escape. Art has always been used for propaganda and to boost morale. It can feed your mind and comfort."Magnus will also be showcasing peoples' interpretations via a digital gallery on his website, allowing for a sense of interaction and togetherness during this time of isolation.He comments: “For me, art is about rediscovery, taking things from the past and renewing them. This project will allow people from all over the world to redesign a piece of my art in their own way. An antidote to the boredom we’re all facing, the Art Therapy set is a way for people to spend their time and allows me to engage with my audience, encouraging them to question, challenge and rethink what art is.”

Magnus Gjoen's Art Therapy Colouring Set

What inspired the collaborative project? "
I think most of us have more time on our hands and are slightly bored after finishing the entire Netflix catalogue. The Art Therapy series was made so that people can create something themselves, with a little help from myself, and as an antidote to boredom.Exploring the Art Therapy collection will hopefully give people a push to explore their artistic side and give them some satisfaction of being able to display it afterwards." We can't wait to try it ourselves.

Mark Powell

"I've been spending my days barking anger at the so call daily briefings and continuing with my scribbles" says Mark." These strange days haven't altered my day to day life in terms of work but I am just working on bigger things which may hopefully turn into a decent show. I've dug out lots of old diaries and notebooks which make for interesting reading." One of Mark's recent biro drawings on antique postcards, yet to be titled...

"Though I do seem to be starting a new work everyday and the only change is that I can't seem to finish anything, which is rather odd and irritating. The rest of the time I'm just making playlists of music to listen to as the hours and unknown days drip by broken only by a cocktail night I whip up. Im looking forward to getting back into the proper studio so I can finish all the starts."

More biro drawings on antique documents made by Mark during lockdown...

We would like to say thank you to our artists for sharing their experiences and tips with us, we hope you enjoyed them as much as we did. And thank you for reading.

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