One thing that has struck me throughout this crisis is how every single person I speak to is impacted differently, it’s impossible to generalise about what's helpful, what's not helpful and what we all as individuals need at this time.
As a creative, small business owner and mother I find myself in my own personal situation. As a business owner I feel surprisingly well supported by the government's financial aid. However what has been glaringly obvious is how severely most creatives fall through the cracks of financial aid.
Creatives subsidise our cultural experiences through their incessant drive to create and as a result there has been a huge altruistic wave coming from the creative sector, where their skills have been used to help others, whether practically or simply to raise spirits or funds, it’s been a beautiful thing to observe.
Harriet Vine and I chose to use sales from Tatty Devine to donate to the Young Women’s Trust’s Emergency Fund. Throughout April we gave £2 from every order placed on our website to the fund. The Young Women’s Trust is a feminist organisation campaigning for economic justice for young women by raising their voices, challenging sexist stereotypes and rebuilding workplaces free from discrimination. Young women in low-paid work are among the hardest hit by COVID19, they are worried about how they are going to pay their rent, utilities and even feed their children over the coming weeks. Again, falling through the cracks. We felt compelled to pass on some of the help we had received as a business.
On a practical level, the designers Holly Fulton, Bethany Williams and Phoebe English got together to form the Emergency Designer Network, which has accessed local manufacturers to create scrubs for hospitals. Similarly The Fashion School have responded to the crisis by setting up two spaces with volunteers helping to make gowns for hospital workers, they have been producing a staggering 750 gowns a day. And, alongside the scrubs production, Milliners, including Bro. Noel Stewart have been producing visors. Utilising the networks, skills and machines already in place to solve one of the biggest (and highly controversial) problems this crisis has thrown at us as a society is simply genius. Thank goodness for creativity.
Scrolling through Instagram recently I was excited to see Mark Pawson was showing some of his badge archive that has a renewed relevance for today. With slogans like I Cut My Own Hair, I’m Bored, I’m still Bored and I love Fresh Air, his badges are indeed a breath of fresh air. Known for his DIY mail art, books, postcards, badges, multiples and other essential ephemera it was exciting to see Mark was giving these badges away, for FREE! Just the small price of £1.15 towards postage and these badges were yours (and mine!).
Bro. Rob Ryan was equally as kind by offering a free print to those hit the hardest. His instagram read ‘Do you live in a flat with no garden?' . . . and as I swiped through I discovered he was giving a ‘No Garden Special Gift’ away. What a kind and thoughtful gesture, I’m sure the recipient’s spirits were indeed lifted- which counts for a lot these days.
And whilst on Instagram, I have thoroughly enjoyed Bernstock Speirs’ feed over the last eight weeks. The ever talented Thelma Speirs took to making beautiful paintings of people in their hats. It was great to see how the time of lockdown had been used to be creative and make drawings. Again lifting people's spirits with their work.
There have been vast amounts of challenges, competitions and online tutorials, but I particularly enjoyed Celebrating Architecture’s Junkitecture challenges. Having two small children in the house, we have a habit of keeping all clean packaging to use as making materials, or for ‘junk modelling’ as it is known. Being given a challenge to build our favourite building in London or create a room for our favourite character gave a whole new dimension and new way of thinking to our recycling. Our Tower of London junk model is now home to many toy knights!
I’ve loved seeing everyone's windows become the gallery to the world and outlets for creativity. A place to communicate our thoughts, wishes and creativity. Jeremy Deller’s piece of work Thank God for Immigrants was not only beautiful in sentiment but also enabled people to buy his work relatively inexpensively, display it in their window whilst also donating money to the Refugee Action and the Trussell trust- a charity for UK foodbanks, which has never been needed more.
Morag Myerscroft has created a piece of work as part of a campaign called #PostersforthePeople. Her work has been put on billboards and you can also buy a print to display at home or in your window. This was organised by Laura Wellington of street art project In Good Company in and again the profits are being shared between the artists chosen charities @stlukessheff @theblurtfoundation @artfelt_sheff #TheTrussellTrust @nhscharitiestogether.
Another print that’s been created with a donation for the Trussell Trust is Donna Wilson’s I Miss Your Face watercolour art. This really sums up how we are all feeling. Creatives need each other, we need the community we’ve created but also the support and love from those were closest to.
Harriet Vine made a necklace last week with the faces of all her friends, as she too is missing everyone. You can find instructions on how to make your own here.
One thing is sure, creativity goes a long way in making life better for ourselves and everyone it touches.