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A ‘welcome escape’ into artistry during lockdown

By Andy Richardson | Features | Published:

Art is enjoying a renaissance as people stay at home during lockdown. With many residents passing the time by putting brush to paper, they are being encouraged to take part in online activities.

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Developed for the over-55s, Still Lively is a weekly art session focusing on drawing led by artist Sam Hale. In recent weeks, the popular classes have moved from their usual physical location at Wolverhampton Art Gallery to a new virtual home online.

Ms Hale has continued to plan and develop a wide range of activities and challenges to help people hone their artistic skills and learn new techniques. Social media has been used to help support and encourage the group, as they continue their creative journeys from the safety of their own homes. The group has been a fantastic opportunity to provide mutual support around a shared interest in art and has demonstrated that creativity can support health and wellbeing.

An exhibition of their work features a selection of images group members have created in response to Ms Hale’s weekly projects and their own creative interests. A wide range of paintings, drawings and collages are on display, alongside pages from artists’ sketch books, works in pastel and chalk, and figurative and abstract pieces. Together, they form an overview of Still Lively artworks created during lockdown.

Ms Hale has worked as a freelance arts worker since 1988 and is a founder member of Black Country-based Bostin’Arts. She has found her strength in realising that busy hands facilitate both talking and listening, using the arts as a tool to engage with people of all ages from babies and their carers in her bespoke pop-up baby palaces to older people out doing their shopping.

Further details are available at: www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk/collections/free-online-resources/ or www.creativehealthcic.co.uk/older-people/

Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and council library services are inviting budding artists to submit images of lockdown inspired art to include in special online exhibition ‘Art in Lockdown’.

Anyone who lives, works or studies in Wolverhampton is being asked to submit their creations reflecting on their experiences of life during the coronavirus crisis.

Creative responses could include paintings, drawings, writing, craft or even music.

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The exhibition was inspired by Wolverhampton based artist and illustrator Ed Isaacs, who has been creating artworks capturing scenes from his immediate surroundings and daily life in lockdown to share on his social media channels.

As a city, Wolverhampton wants to capture people’s artistic responses to serve as a visual archive. Councillor Harman Banger, City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for City Economy said: “During this time art has provided a welcome escape for many.

“We have seen a number of pieces created by members of the public that have captured our beautiful city and reflected how people have coped during the lockdown, with all of the challenges that has brought including home schooling, isolation, working from home or losing a loved one.

“As a city we want to share these experiences with others and I hope this exhibition will highlight how Wolverhampton has been proactive and how we have come together during this time.”

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Those interested in submitting artwork can send a high resolution image or audio recording to art.gallery@wolverhampton.gov.uk by Sunday, May 31. Please include your name, a short description and where the piece was created. The team will then review submissions and will group the entries into age categories and inform you if you have been selected. All subjects welcome.

Once the lockdown has been lifted and the city’s cultural venues and libraries are open to the public, City of Wolverhampton Council will look to host the exhibition at one of its venues.

Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Arts and Culture team have made available a range of ideas for creative activities and ways to stay connected with arts and culture.

By visiting the website visitors can take a virtual tour of the art gallery, locating their favourite pieces and even sharing them online using #wolverhamptonartcollection.

Wolverhampton Arts and Culture has over 18,000 items in its collection, which range from objects relating to Black Country history and ancient fossils, to old master paintings and contemporary sculptures. It also has the biggest collection of Pop Art outside of London. A vast number of items are available to view online by clicking the collections tab on the website. It’s a wonderful resource for learning, engagement and creativity.

Curators have compiled a list of informative books available on Issuu, which relate to artists and artworks in the collections, as well as to exhibitions.

There’s a carefully selected list of podcasts which document what is currently going on in the arts and discuss recently opened exhibitions and burning topics in the art world.

Andy Richardson

By Andy Richardson
Feature Writer - @andyrichardson1

Feature writer and food critic Andy Richardson interviews celebrities, writes columns and hangs out with chefs for stories that appear across all group titles.

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