When the great COVID-19 Toilet Paper Rush began, I was on a shared artists’ residency at Police Point, at the end of the Mornington Peninsula, where I worked on my book manuscript and created works for my Fairies Without Wings exhibition and workshops, which were widely promoted for May, and subsequently cancelled – in the real world.
I made an announcement that I would launch the exhibition online, envisioning the release of a video of one work each day in May; however . . .
The challenges have been numerous, from tech and furniture failures to the limitations of sharing my home workspace with a schoolroom for an eleven year old and a business office, where online meetings and phone calls create a lot of noise and require a lot of silence – as do my own endeavours to produce sound tracks for the slide shows I create to save as videos to post on YouTube.
In the wee hours of the day, while my family sleeps, I can sometimes be found sitting under ‘blue blankie’, with my head in a cardboard box, recording spoken words against a backdrop of birdsong captured at an earlier residency at Heritage Hill, where the project began.
I have stopped to re-assess. There must be a better way to do this. The learning curve is steep, but the financial impact is greater. Aside from the lost income from the eight cancelled workshops, new tech and programs are also adding to the burden.
Art funding is available to apply for, but it is in high demand; I am not the only artist whose business has suffered. not by a long shot. So we do what artists do best: we improvise and compromise, making do with what we have – hence the 3 am recording studio situation.
I want to deliver the workshops as online courses, when I have the means. This is something I have thought about doing for a while, so the pandemic situation is giving me the push I needed.
As a prelude to this, I have been serving my community with a free Facebook group, Mandala Mondays, where we go ‘Live from the Lounge’ every Monday at 3pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time), in a simulated workshop atmosphere of casual chatter, while making mandalas. People can join in the conversation by posting their comments in the chat during the session.
A recording is available for those who can’t watch it live, but would like to create art in the company of others – even if it is virtual. Group members can post pictures of the completed mandalas in the Mandala Mondays group, creating a nice album to browse through.
A mandala is a symmetrical pattern of shapes arranged in a circle. I chose this art form to make the activity easily accessible using items people are likely to have in their homes or could collect on a walk, if they are allowed out. It’s a good activity to do alone or with children.
As for the online exhibition, I’m currently updating this website so I can deliver the exhibition here. You can also buy my artwork printed onto a range of items at https://www.redbubble.com/people/jennilivins/shop
To be kept up to date about the exhibition and release of the tutorial, please join my email list (and I’ll send you a PDF of a clover patch with 7 four-leafed clovers to find).