Curating during a pandemic…
Making art and crafting is no walk in the park. In an ever more consumeristic, individualist and capitalist society, Art – like anything else – becomes a commodity only for the very few who can afford it; leaving behind not only those who no longer can access it, but also those whose art is ignored by the gate-keeping institutions and galleries.
1% for the 1%.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many said that the crisis was going to be a great leveller. Both the poor and the rich being affected equally. How beautiful. Or rather, how naive. In a world that is unfair and needs inequality to thrive, no crisis can level the endless disparities that are the foundations of our society.
And so, as the pandemic started, women – a minority still despite our being over 50% of the global population – were among those most affected:
77% of the 3,200,000 workers in ‘high risk’ roles are women. Over a million of these workers are paid below 60% median wages. 98% are women (Women’s Budget Group & Fawcett Society, April 2020)
57% of working mums believe that managing childcare during Covid-19 has damaged their career prospects. (Pregnant Then Screwed, June 2020)
The proportion of women reporting that they have been experiencing at least one severe underlying mental health problem increased from 11% to 27% (compared to a rise from 7% to 18% in men). (The Guardian, June 2020)
42.9% of women of colour said they believed they would be in more debt as a result of the pandemic (Fawcett Society, 2020)
Refuge reported a 700% increase in calls to its helpline in a single day, while a separate helpline for perpetrators of domestic abuse seeking help to change their behaviour received 25% more calls after the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. (Refuge, April 2020)
While making and crafting are priceless healing tools, being an artist in the 99% today might mean juggling, uncertainty and precariousness.
Add a pandemic to that to spice things up. Add domestic violence. Add motherhood. Race. Mental health. What a leveller the pandemic!
Sheroes in Quarantine wanted everyone’s eyes, minds and hearts to turn to all those women artists and crafters out there, surfing the wave. Making to heal. Making to survive. Making to empower others.
The project, which initially started as an online exhibition, turned into a growing community and support network through panel talks, workshops, coaching sessions, love and connection.
As an artist myself also juggling, used to making under uncertain circumstances, wanting to thrive in this world, I often dream of being in the 1%. As an activist, feminist and strong believer in the power of being part of a community, working with other women artists is the best reminder of what Art means to me and what I believe Art can do: a force, a universal language, that can bring us together and as a result, elevate us.
The pandemic might not have levelled anything.
Yet, though projects like Sheroes in Quarantine, it has reminded me – and I hope all those involved – that making together can make ‘making’ the dreamiest of all walks in the park.
‘Wiped Out’ by Laura Greenway
‘Liminal Vessels’ by Sarah Strachan
“I cannot put enough words for expressing my gratitude towards what you offered and how much I enjoyed your sessions. It was like an oasis during the mad period of my project. I do hope that Lon-Art will be able to arrange similar sessions next year. This is much needed support for women artists!” – Anonymous Feedback
“It was so nice to be part of a community that had been formed through the exhibition – we were connected already which made it much easier to relax into the workshop process. Thank you” – Anonymous Feedback
“I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for the workshop experience. I was very pleased with the engagement and results at the end. It’s been a long time that I taught anything and felt very fulfilled afterwards. Thank you so much for the opportunity and everything you are doing for the community.” – Allison Lee, Sheroes artist and facilitator
“That was fantastic to see and listen to, thank you so much ladies. So many powerful pieces, topics and observations, I’m really looking forward to seeing the works in full. Lastly, it’s been so so wonderful to witness this as a housebound fine artist x” – Anonymous Feedback
“Being a neurodivergent artist, having to isolate myself during the pandemic has been a great strain on my mental health, but through Sheroes I have had the chance to virtually meet and work with a range of artists and take part in some really helpful and inspiring workshops. Sheroes made it possible for me to connect with the art world again at a time when connection is so important and being chosen for the project meant that I was able to get the work I had produced during lockdown seen by people all over the world – it really was a dream come true to take part!” – Laura Greenway, Sheroes in Quarantine Part II Prize Winner
Images: ‘Don’t Panic’ by Allison Lee, ‘Three Weeks in Lockdown’ by Alice Brooke, ‘Today is Hard’ by Paola Paredes
More posts of interest
Pandemic Diary: Bisila Noha
Find out more about how Lon-Art facilitator and curator Bisila Noha managed her ceramics practice during the pandemic…
A community exhibition
Issue 11: Care, Craft, Community
Read more about the beginnings of the exhibition…