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Spring 2020: The Blue Period

25 March 2020

Dear Friends,

What extraordinary times we are living through. We have been called upon to act with extra diligence, patience and consideration and to be clean. We have been asked to temporarily sacrifice our precious liberty and to wait.

These are not big asks when it comes to saving lives.

From the front line staff in the NHS, the stressed-out souls working in food shops, the army of carers trying to keep their charges safe, to those keeping the basic infrastructure of our country in check, the volunteers, the vaccination researchers and their guinea pigs: We salute you.

Luckier than many, I’m waiting and watching the pandemic unfold from a house very near to the coastline. Looking left from my attic bedroom window, I can see the remains of former shipyards on the River Tyne. Enormous passenger ferries are usually visible, moving slowly out to sea but not at the moment. To my right, just above the rooftops, I can see that the horizon is made of water and, when the need arises, I know I can walk alone (once a day) to the sands.

However, this house by the sea isn’t my home, I am a guest here. Before Covid-19 I had been in the process of buying a place of my own. It may now take a lot longer than normal, longer even than the usual interminable carry-on that is conveyancing.

For now, Corona requires me to live out of a suitcase. My worldly belongings, including easel and painting materials are quarantined elsewhere.

Six bored, tetchy pussycats must be placated; they can’t understand why they’ve been wrenched from their own comfy residence and locked down in a strange place for their own safety. Little did I think when I came here for a gratefully accepted stop gap that I too would be confined to barracks and for the same reasons.

No stranger to solitude, making art is my natural way of passing the days, but without the tools to do this in the normal way, I'm reduced to doodling and planning.  Due to a string of unforseen events in 2019, I was already going to miss the target for a new exhibition this year. I’ll aim at 2021 but ultimately it doesn’t really matter because there are far more important aims at this time. Right now, like everyone else, I’m worried for my loved ones and more focused on seeing us all return to whatever will pass for ‘normality’ once this maniac disease has been wrestled into submission.

This will be behind us soon enough. Until then, try and enjoy the boxsets, biscuits and pyjama days. Bear the frustration and let's get each other to the other side.

Love (from a safe distance of two metres)