The Cumbria Solway coast has always been my greatest inspiration for my paintings. I love the big open beaches, huge skies and even the weather (which is not always kind). I also have many good friends on the coast who have welcomed me into their community, although I’m actually based in Penrith.
Before lockdown I was looking forward to another summer of visiting the coast, painting and exhibitions. Suddenly everything stopped. Shows were cancelled, the EVA Gallery, where my studio is based, closed. Travel stopped. My inspiration was brutally and suddenly unavailable and I was lost the motivation to paint.
In the following few weeks I watched the coast from afar, virtually. I could see the amazing place via social media and the community supporting each other with incredible spirit, but had to stay away.
I became aware of musicians virtually connecting and playing together and an idea formed to join them. Peter Michael Rowan, local musician, “threw out some tunes” that he had composed, for others to play along. I asked whether I could “play” and filmed myself painting in time with his tune. It was hugely challenging, a painting in live time of under two minutes. “As Long Out As In”, our collaboration was posted on social media and I have teamed up with other musicians to do more of the same.
Another local musician Pete Moran, has composed a beautiful piece for me to ‘paint’, title "Ebb and Flow".
I’m also working with Penrith based Jilly Jarman of BlueJam Arts on a piece titled "Time and Tide" as well as with Richard Burton from the band Dayglo Fisherman.
Now I find that painting, even without the music, has developed a new rhythm. I can’t unhear the tunes. Their music has become part of how I now paint. Each mark is part of a wider emotional experience. Every note / mark matters.
I found a new way to connect with myself, the West Coast community, musicians and my art, a new way to express myself.
I feel so privileged to be part of the Eden Valley Artistic network. Artists can easily lead a lonely and solitary life but through being part of this network, there has been friendship and support through these uncertain times.