Art imitates Covid life

Adapt. This is the word I am attempting to apply to life as we now know it. Covid life.

Art imitates Covid life

"For the months of July and August 2021, I had been watching the Covid situation in New South Wales closely, and was not terribly surprised to find that we had Covid in Auckland. Nor was I surprised at the level four sudden lockdown."

"I had been working on a TV series for two years through the Covid experience, and we had definitely been affected on a daily basis by having to wear masks and socially distance in the work place, among many other impacts. A plus-side to the workplace in a Covid world was the 10 days of Covid-related sick leave which was offered; amazing in an industry which offers no such thing in “normal” circumstances to the freelance workforce.

"The biggest result of Covid was probably that the TV series decided to relocate to the UK for the remaining seasons. However, films and TV series come and go on a whim in this country, so it’s hard to know the real reason they relocated.

"With my freelance bookings suddenly cancelled and the country paused by a Level 4 lockdown, I decided I needed a daily project I could work on from my house – something to focus my attention on other than supporting family and making home-cooked meals."
Image Description

"I couldn’t access my studio to pick up paints, brushes or paper, so I applied a philosophy of “use what I have”. And what I had was a limited range of student acrylic colours, my kids’ paint brushes, and half an A4 pad of pre-primed canvas."

Image Description
On day 19, Bryony went to the supermarket and her son built with Lego.

"I had begun working on word paintings in my studio only the week before, though they were quite different from how my “paint by Covid numbers” series developed.

"Each day I painted at the kitchen table, sometimes with my 13 year-old who worked on model-making across from me. Each day began with a blank page laid out on the kitchen table, and pencilled words were added through the day, as my family co-existed. Things that became important:

Food – menus, shopping lists | Exercise – bike rides to Western Springs Park featured large | Distanced Connections – to friends in our neighbourhood | 1pm Covid case number.

Paint by Covid numbers.

"At times through the day, I would make a stove-top coffee and sit at the table, blocking in the acrylic colours, while one of my children talked with me about their momentary obsession or showed me a lego creation. Or, both kids would be having a digital moment, and I would sink into simple mixing of colours and working on getting the balance of light and dark right as the page filled. A moment of peace. Sometimes after the kids were in bed and the house was quiet, I would finish off the page of the day. A small achievement from a locked down day.

"When the lockdown shifted to level three and my partner was able to go back to running his company, my days became a little busier as the only adult in the house with one teen, and one seven year-old home schooling. I decided to keep my Paint by Covid numbers as a level four project, and stopped. So there are 35 paintings. An amazing visual snapshot of our lives at this strange and unique juncture."

You can find more of Bryony Matthew’s work on her website, or like and follow her social media: bryonymatthewartist on Facebook, @bryonymatthewartist on Instagram