Lockdown was a weird time. Some of us went bananas for banana bread (sorry). Some of us whacked on Joe Wicks every morning and started developing a six pack. And, for some of us, lockdown let our creative juices flow, allowing us to unleash our inner Neil Buchanan/Bansky (for those who don’t know- they are absolutely the same person. A kind of narrator/Tyler Durden situation, probably).
Having rescheduled all planned exhibitions until 2021, the Hodgson Loom gallery in Laxey had an opening in their space, which is normally booked a year in advance. Inspired by seeing artists sharing their work online, artist and curator Julia Ashby Smyth put a call out on Facebook for art produced over the pandemic. Facebook did not disappoint: over 260 pieces were submitted for the exhibition. Julia didn’t limit who could submit, either: experienced and new artists alike submitted.
The works in the exhibition vary greatly. There are paintings of artist’s immediate surroundings in lockdown, Michelangelo inspired sculptures, pieces that take inspiration from the physical form of the ‘rona, among other delights. While the virus and lockdown has had a damaging effect on some artist’s practice, Julia tells me that others found that they had “a time to do things they love. Some people have had delight in the natural world, colourful birds and the landscapes. [They were] more in nature and that’s inspired them to put it into the paintings. Some were taken by the virus itself, some pieces are deeply connected to the person.”
While many artists found their commissions being cancelled, there has been a silver lining for some artists, like Julia. Without the limitations of time, style and products, artists have been able to really stretch their creative muscles. Artists, Julia tell me have produced news styles that are “fabulous and fresh”. There was the “opportunity for something different”.
There really is something for everyone at the exhibition. Excitingly, it is a buy and take exhibition: if you like something you see, you can buy it straight off the wall. The number of submissions means that, as pieces are sold, they are replaced with others. This is an evolving exhibition, with works constantly being reshuffled. Julia is a master curator, working with a beautiful space, and the works are displayed in such a way that it makes it very difficult to stop yourself from buying pieces.
The exhibition is a real delight- even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it is worth seeing to admire the wealth of talent on the island.
The exhibition is open until the end of 2020 at the Hodgson Loom Gallery in Laxey.