Lucy Delano tells us about her lockdown lifeline: ‘Art and Only Art’
Hi Lucy – We’ve been in lockdown for nearly nine weeks. Hopefully we’re slowly coming out of it now, but we’d love to hear about what you have been doing during this period. Can you tell us how your project Art and Only Art came about?
My sister and five of her friends set each other a daily drawing/ painting challenge according to a list of themes they got from googling ‘Daily Art Themes’.
When lockdown was imposed and I realised that artistic outlets would be unavailable both to me and my many creative friends and family members, I thought it would be a good opportunity to start a similar group online, via Facebook.
Who was it originally set up for?
The group began by sending invitations to a few of my friends, many of whom studied Fine Art MA at The University of Brighton, as well as some who wouldn’t consider themselves ‘artists’ as such, and some who are creative in other ways, in order to get a feel for if there would be any interest in a new online creative outlet.
There was positive feedback and lots of people joined in. Over time, they asked if friends could also join and although it remained as a closed group, everyone who wished to join was welcomed.
How is the theme selected and what themes have you been working to?
For the first three or four days I followed the list that my sister’s group had been using, but it quite quickly became apparent, that as everyone in the group was in the same boat due to lockdown and social distancing, we all had very similar things on our minds at the same time. So, I abandoned the list and began to set a daily challenge which captured, to some degree, the lockdown Zeitgeist.
Recreate a work of art
For example, at the beginning, I set topics such as ‘Mother’ which coincided with Mother’s Day, when many of us were missing our mothers or indeed as mothers, missing our children. The topic of ‘hair’ arose just at a time everyone was feeling a communal need for a haircut, ‘The View from my Window’ came later as a uniting theme as the lockdown began to take its toll.
I avoided any theme directly associated with the virus, which may have caused distress or anxiety, the hope for the group being that, whilst making a nod to our collective situation, it would at the same time offer some respite from it. The name Art and Only Art was born from this philosophy. I try to keep the themes ones that we can all relate to, and which would not be divisive, for example, although many of us have used this lockdown time to plant seeds and grow vegetables, some of our members don’t have gardens, so for this reason, I wouldn’t make ‘Garden’ a theme.
As I write, we are on day 68, with a theme of ‘WHAT IS ART’
When this is all over
Mandalas and doodles
The view from my window
Eggs and lockdown sounds
Recreate a famous work of art
Chaos and order
The best photo I have ever taken
Sculpture made of domestic stuff
My favourite 5 posts 50
Faces in things
Where I walk
In the style of Goldsworthy OR Green
What is art?
The challenge is simply to respond in any creative way to the theme of the day. There are no rules and there is no competition. It has proved to be an essential part of our little group that no submission is ‘better’ or more ‘valued’ than any other, and it remains a safe, kind and supportive environment in which artists and other creatives around the country, (and a few from abroad) can have an equal outlet. Members don’t have to post every-day, in fact many members don’t post at all, but enjoy watching the wide variety of responses to the daily themes.
How has the project grown over the 68 day period?
As of today, we have 171 members, all of whom have been invited by other group members. The fact that we have remained a closed group has meant that we are all getting to know each other’s work and lives and are making new friends as well as revisiting old ones.
What different kinds of content have you received from participants?
The variety of creative responses to the themes has been the real highlight for me. We have everything from lockdown doodlers, painters, designers, photographers, visual commentators, established artists, to even the odd conceptual piece! Different members respond to different themes and every single post is valuable and treasured. It differs from an exhibition in this way, as anyone who wishes to ‘exhibit’ here can, and there are no subjective judgements as to the merits of any piece.
Doodles and Mandalas
How do you plan for the project to grow into the future after lockdown?
This is an interesting question for me as a I am very protective towards our Art and Only Art group. I have frequently been contacted personally, by members telling me how valuable the safe space of the group is to them, the term ‘lifeline’ having been used repeatedly. It’s true value, in my opinion, is in the lack of competition, the inclusiveness and the levelling connection of art, for a group of people going through a collectively challenging time.
Although it’s tempting to consider (with 171 people’s permission) an Art and Only Art retrospective lockdown exhibition, I would be devastated if that were to change the feel of what we have achieved. So, I’m unsure of the answer. Maybe when we get to day 100, I’ll ask the group to respond to the theme ‘The Future of This Group’
What do you feel you have learned from the project and the lockdown period more generally?
The project has reinforced for me the value of ‘art for all’. I always struggled with the esoteric and elitist nature of the art world, and being part of this group, with its strict lack of competitive value judgement has been a very rewarding experience.
It has also been eye opening to see how the creativity of individuals may change during difficult times, but it’s always there. In terms of the lockdown period more generally, the arts have regained their rightful place in society, as essential to our health, wellbeing and experience and not just a dispensable ‘extra’ to the real stuff of life.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
It has been a lifeline for me too.
For more info contact Lucy at: [email protected]