During this period of lockdown the way in which I had worked changed drastically due to COVID-19 all my care home residencies had been put on hold, along with school workshops and gallery sales, this had a profound impact not only on my income, which has always been modest but regular. It also impacted greatly on my creative mental health, instead of feeling able to work in my studio toward future events; there was uncertainty and a loss of enthusiasm to be creative.
My mind kept going back to working with the residence in the care homes, feeling their isolation and loss during this time. When visiting on my workshop sessions, I would take flora and fauna from my garden to stimulate conversation and encourage the residents to draw/paint/print with them.
I had previously grown Honesty in my garden as it has fond childhood connections for me so I gathered some to take into the care home; the response was beautiful, with references to the moon, fragility and how the older generation used it as dried flower decorations. I kept thinking about this plant every time I brushed past it in my workshop, this mystical plant with its connections of alchemy and the moon.
My grandparents had grown this plant and used the pods to decorate the window at Christmas as a symbol of good luck, once they had matured. When peeling back the folds my Grandmother would always refer to them as a reminder that in the autumn of your life true beauty and strength through honesty will always shine. Was it possible to use stitch with a very fine needle and thread working into its delicate ephemeral pods and writing words used by the residence about life, from all the notes I have gathered over the last two years and also creating some simple workshops to send out to some of the care homes I had worked with previously.
Through an Arts Council of Wales Lottery Funding grant it has been made possible for me to experiment and manipulate the material using silk thread to support some of the structure, pushing its boundaries to produce a body of work around loneliness, dementia and our delicate bodies. Resulting in something fragile and some thought provoking work in a small intimate exhibition to take place at the Makers Guild in May 2021. This will continue to raise awareness about the importance of residents having access to the vibrant rewards art and creative activity have on them, through organisations such as AGE CYMRU'S cARTrefu project and the importance of artistic stimulation.