The Coronavirus Pandemic lockdown has been devastating to many artists and small businesses, but at the same time, it has been a chance to slow down, reflect, and engage with a much smaller area around us.
For Cumbrian artists, it’s proven an opportunity to capture a unique moment in human history, reflected in the upcoming book, Dreaming through the Locking Glass, an artistic response to confined times.
Inspired by Lakeland called on artists of all disciplines throughout Cumbria – painting, print-making, poetry, textiles, ceramics, illustration, 3D, prose, photography – to create an original piece of work that captures the artist’s personal experience of life during lockdown.
Submissions include a comic strip by Lakes International Comic Art Festival supporter and print maker Jamie Barnes, who has helped organise exhibitions for the organisation since it began back in 2013.
“This is a sort of visual diary of the first ten weeks of lockdown for me,” Jamie says of his submission, “Locking and Stopping“.
“As an artist I normally make scratchy, atmospheric etchings full of structures in the landscape, so this comic style has been a big departure and challenge for me,” Jamie tells us. “The comic artists I have met over the years have slowly influenced me, and I have tentatively started drawing comics myself.
“This one is the most ambitious to date, and I hope to work on a longer project in the future.
“I work as a printmaker and freelance curator throughout Cumbria,” Jamie continues. “At lockdown, I lost all my gallery work, and all exhibitions and art fairs were cancelled, so I had to find new ways of working, seeking commissions, and selling my art online.
“Like many people, this pandemic has caused me a fair amount of confusion and anxiety,” he reveals. “We seem to be in a constant state of striving to stay safe whilst also looking after those around us. However, lockdown has forced me to slow down, reevaluate, appreciate people and things more, and rediscover my immediate surroundings.
“We need to hold these good things in our hearts as we step outside to rejoin the world once more.
The submissions to the project have been whittled down to a shortlist, and selected artwork will feature in the new 144-page book alongside a short description of the artist’s work; their wider art; and how life has changed for them -– personally and creatively – under lockdown.
The artwork might by a distant view, a recollection of days before lockdown, words wrestling confinement and imaginative freedom, recognition of the value of our health workers, a localised view of neighbourhood seen through new eyes… whatever the situation inspires the artist to create.
Profits from the sale of Dreaming through the locking glass, which will be available for sale county and nationwide, will be split between Cumbrian NHS Trusts and local artistic groups, including Green Door, Space2Create, and the Eden Valley Artistic Network.
The project has been generously supported by Windermere-based print broker, Latitude Press, who have waived its commission so that more money can be given to the NHS and local arts organisations.
It’s hoped the art from this project will also becoming a touring exhibition in 2021.
• Inspired by Lakeland is online at www.inspiredbylakeland.co.uk
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.