If you follow me on any of my social media platforms you’ll no doubt have seen me both complain and compliment the Scottish Government’s Shielding protocol for people at the highest risk of complications from COVID-19.
No leaving the house, no visitors, and no interaction within 2 metres with the people I live with.
I wont lie, it’s been difficult, but it’s been a necessary difficulty. I have felt safe from the virus as I’ve watched it grasp at the livelihoods of communities and left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. Meanwhile I have been cocooned, kept safe, with nothing but glowing reports for the people who have been delivering my shopping, and the other key-workers putting their health, and their lives in some cases, on the line.
I know that the problems and difficulties I have faced are of a different type to the nurses and doctors in our hospitals, and the workers on the shop floor. Instead of the immediate physical pressing reality of the virus, I was instead presented with a reality where I was completely isolated from everyone important in my life, relegated to video and phone calls, text messages in place of conversations in person.
The first few weeks of the quarantine were a different story. I got my shielding letter relatively late compared to others, so many people already had two weeks under their belts before I started, so I had been gallantly attending the day job, trying my best to help in an environment where you constantly felt like the tidal wave was coming. I felt like Téa Leoni in Deep Impact, just waiting on the wave coming ashore, except with worse eyebrows and less composure.
Once the waves retreated I realised that I was going to be at home for the foreseeable. My ‘Art Practice’ had been undergoing changes of late, and I had been working on a few things here and there, but surrounded with materials and technology, and the clearest social calendar I can remember since that eight months I spent in hospital that one time, I got to work.
Having the space to concentrate on the work I’ve made before, and the kind of work I wanted to make going forward was a welcome distraction to the Coronavirus related madness going on outside my front door. And let me be clear it’s the emotional space I’m meaning here. I’ve had spiders move out of my house citing inhumane and cramped living conditions.
At first I was struck by how quickly COVID-19 had begun to colour my reality. I was watching Ocean’s Something, and George Clooney pulled Julia Roberts in close in what looked like it was supposed to be an embrace, but instead he was just extricating himself from his handcuffs like the wily silver fox that he is. My first reaction wasn’t quite “Oh-ho-ho! Look at that handsome and charming chap and that cool thing that he’s just done!” and was instead “JEEZ THEY TWO ARE AWFULLY CLOSE!”. I felt immediately uncomfortable, after spending weeks avoiding everyone, at what was a scene shot years ago before Coronavirus was on everyone’s lips, and the threat of infection on every breath.
It then started transferring into every other thing I watched. Everything I watched was distorted through the fish-eye lens of the pandemic. Whenever anyone was within two metres of one another I would immediately feel like it was worrying and dangerous.
That’s when I started the Quarantine Watchlist. A project which helped me not only have something more light-hearted to focus on, but also helped me have a project that I was working consistently on. It was something that I hadn’t really had since I was working on The Things We Lost, and I had really missed it in my life. Now here I was in a situation where I had physically never had more time to work on a project that I was living right in the middle of.
Working on the Watchlist has helped me have more ideas that I’m now pursuing, and has given me something that I was able to share with you guys on a more regular basis than the stuff I’ve previously been sharing, and that’s been exciting and also really enjoyable.
It’s also helped me keep to a relatively regular schedule, at a time when it would have been too easy to sleep later and later every day. Getting up and having a real passion for what I’ve been working on, and for sharing it with people has kept me somewhat saner than I would be had I been trapped in the house indefinitely. It’s also been fun to share things with people, and to get their feedback and their comments on things, and I know a couple of people have really enjoyed giving me film and TV recommendations because they’ve been excited to see what I’m going to do with it, and to be honest I’ve really enjoyed their recommendations too.
Unfortunately however, as Nelly Furtado sang with so much foresight, all good things must come to an end. Barring the two weeks of Quarantine Watchlists I have planned, the project is coming to a close. Mainly because I’m a bit tired of it, and as I have been throwing myself more into my work, that’s led to less time watching TV.
It was fine as a project while the country was walked down, but with every week more and more of the restrictions are being relaxed, and life is moving on.
I’m also just looking forward to working on some other things. I have an exciting project I’m about to start working on based on Scottish Folklore, and I also have a couple of series of prints I’m excited to get started working on.
Overall I think that Shielding has had a positive effect on my work, and on my practice, and I’ll be trying to keep the heid with it for as long as I can. As we get back to our new way of living in this post COVID-19 world there are definitely lesson’s I’ve learned that I’ll be trying to keep going.
Is there anything about lockdown that you’ve enjoyed? Or are you desperate to get it over with? Let me know with a comment down below.