From Isolation to Creation:
Artists Respond to a Changing World
Lockdown and Liberty
I am Elaine Brown and I used to live in Lugwardine where I had a studio-workshop and designed and produced hand painted silk scarves, occasionally to clients’ specific requirements. Pottery was my first love but I had to stop for health reasons so I started exploring other avenues including blacksmithing and glass fusing but eventually I chose silk painting. Since then I have produced numerous pictures on silk including a scriptural silk painting which is now hanging in a church in Kent.
In August 2019, we sold our house and most of our “stuff”, just keeping a few treasured possessions in a storage unit. With my husband already retired, I resigned from my job as a teaching assistant and we bought a motorhome called Matilda to go full-time touring of the UK and Ireland, so I suppose you could say we are grey nomads. Things were going really well until March 23rd this year which saw us retreat to a pub car park in Herefordshire to ride out lockdown and plan for better times. Limitations on space and weight in a motorhome mean that I have had to put most of my earlier work into storage and am unable to produce silk scarves for the moment but I have kept quite a selection of scarves with me.
Lockdown presented me with the opportunity to start using different media – acrylics on canvas during good weather with the awning up, and postcard size watercolours when out walking or during shorter stops. My influences come largely from things we have seen and places we have visited during our travels – some natural, some manmade, and all captured initially in photographs. I was particularly taken with early Christian carvings on the Meigle stones in Scotland and subsequent visits to Lindisfarne and Iona had a significant effect on me and my art. My faith continues to affect my art and I have begun to take a great interest in the icons we have seen in churches and cathedrals during our travels. I find reproducing icons very therapeutic, possibly because the process is historically prescriptive, but nevertheless still leaves room for creativity. It was this, combined with my experiences and observations drawn from my time teaching art in a primary school that led me to enrol on an Internet-based course in Art Therapy, which I am currently part-way through.
We have always cherished every minute spent with our grandchildren who luckily seem to have inherited my artistic skills and it is an absolute joy doing arts and crafts with them. During lockdown we were able to spend a lot of time with two of our grandchildren as we were in the same family bubble, and of course we maintained contact with the others via the wonders of the “interweb”. Our grandchildren love drawing big pictures in wet sand at the seaside and making beach sculptures which is especially gratifying as I find the concept of ephemeral works absolutely fascinating. I am a big fan of Andy Goldsworthy but I would rather the ephemeral work I make with my grandchildren was erased by the forces of nature rather than by human intervention. I have also helped my grandchildren with cake decoration, sewing, and painting pebbles to leave for other children to find.
When we do eventually settle down and buy a house, I am looking forward to resuming silk painting because it enables me to experiment with colour and light. I often use metallic colours in my silk painting and more recently in my acrylic work and this is undoubtedly due to my admiration for another artist – Yvonne Coomber, and I freely admit that some people may recognise echoes of Yvonne’s work in mine. I do not feel the need to categorise my work but if pressed would describe my art as a fusion of faith, history, coast and country.
I studied at Hereford College of Art where I gained a Licentiateship of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and two City & Guilds. I am a former member of the Hereford Guild of Craftsmen and a member of the Herefordshire Art & Craft Society and have exhibited widely including at the Courtyard and Left Bank.
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