Creativity can connect us through a crisis

When anxiety is overwhelming, creativity can become your sanctuary and connect you with others.

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helen loveday floral painting

Art has often given me a sense of purpose in times of despair and the current crisis has been no exception.

Being separated on a different continent from my elderly mother has been awful. My anxiety peaked two months into lockdown as I sat on the phone speaking to my mum trying to stay cheerful. I know she must be desperately lonely not having seen anyone for months on end. We talked about family, though not much had changed from the day before, and then we spent the rest of the conversation discussing our latest art projects. Nothing gets us excited like a new tube of watercolour, a new painting technique or a glitter spray. We shared tips and advice on how to improve and what we loved about each artwork. As I put the phone down I sat for a few moments in silence and then burst into uncontrollable tears as I became overwhelmed by how much I missed her. We’ve had this connection through art for as long as I can remember, and my mum has been my biggest supporter in all my creative ventures.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me to pottery classes. She was a gifted painter and ceramicist, when my grandfather passed away shortly after retirement she found the creative work therapeutic. She invited me into the space where she felt at ease and connected with life, the safe space where she could express her emotions without fear of reprisal or rejection.

She wanted me to join her in her passion for creativity and in those moments we spent together molding and painting she gave me that gift. I have vivid memories of the porcelain vases and cups we made, painted in greens and turquoise and a pure white one with a detailed indigo pattern I drew. I still remember the feelings of pride I had when we pulled them unblemished from the kiln.

The joy for creating has stayed with me while I studied art and design through my university days and forged a career as a surface pattern designer. I now own my own business designing patterned silk scarves and kimonos decorated with my paintings.

During this lockdown era, I have shared my art on social media more than usual and written and received more messages and encouragement to and from other artists than ever before. It is such a relief to be involved in something positive that can inspire joy in others. To connect with people all over the world through art has been a wonderful experience.

I’ve also spent more time with my son than ever before. We have cooked, read books, played lego, and we have painted, glued, crayoned, collaged and glittered rolls and rolls of paper together. Our walls at home are covered with joyous pictures of rainbow colored scribbled in letters, neon flowers and glittery dinosaurs.

When he is a little older, and if he thinks he might like to, I plan to take him to pottery classes. I hope that he can discover this magical world of creativity for himself and that we will share it together.

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