Recently, a fellow artist asked his Facebook artist friends about the impact Covid has had on their work output. The answers were fascinating, and pretty much evenly divided between those who have not been at all as productive as usual, and those who have relished the peace and surged ahead. I was frankly relieved to see that so many others have also struggled to lift a brush during this time.

However creativity takes many forms, and I seem to have found myself in a maze of other activities, trying to find my way back to my place at the easel. There has certainly been no shortage of outlets during this bizarre season in our lives. It began with a financial wake-up call during hard lockdown, when the rental income we rely on quite heavily dried up, and Max and I decided we need to shift back to a much more self-sufficient lifestyle, similar to our early years together on our small holding in Port Elizabeth. So we rolled up our sleeves, hauled rocks, dug soil , made compost, and created a food garden.

Then, a couple of months in, we finally managed to ditch our non-paying tenants and set about renovating the rental house we had bought last year. It has been 2 months of relentless hands-on work, and a huge amount of creative thinking to stretch available resources in all directions; reusing, re-purposing, rethinking. A lot of fun but also a killer for no-longer-young bodies!

One of the things messing with my artistic mojo since our move has been the very poor light in my studio. With all the uncertainty etc, I could not bring myself to go into that gloomy place and try to make happy art. I reverted to photography for a while, and have been working on my “Don’t fence me in” series.

Crowded, dark studio a few months ago, with massive extractor fan looming on the right.

So, as if all the other renovation was not enough, we got a bee in the bonnet to take the giant extractor hood out of my studio. It began as a simple exercise, which would have saved us a lot of work… We advertised “you take it out and you can have it” . But if course, in full creative flow, it was never going to end there! Max has run with this one, When he saw the lovely light pouring in through the hole in the roof, left by the chimney of the extractor fan, he decided a simple cover up was not an option, he would make a skylight! And patch up the walls and ceiling, which never received the same tlc as the rest of this derelict place when we renovated it at the beginning of last year. So he has been slaving away, between other projects, for weeks now. And soon it is going to be a lovely, light-filled creative space to draw me back to my easel and canvas. But for now, not much art happening…. Watch this space!!!

Removing the extractor left a hole in the roof, and some serious grime on the walls and ceiling!
The new skylight
The new skylight