New Friend by Paul Nicol



Spring was starting to show on the trees with beautiful cherry blossom flowering in the most wonderful shades of pink which made the whole village look wonderful for what only seemed like a minute before dropping and blowing away in the wind and rain. The daffodils the same, I spotted them through my window in the garden with their bright yellow faces turning towards the sun then as the weeks passed, they were gone. I loved running through the daffys last year with Roxy my dog. I would throw the tennis ball deep into the jungle of yellow flowers and enjoy watching her hunt around till she appeared with the ball in her mouth and that cheesy grin she has on her face when she is happy. But not this year. Everything changed this year. No school in weeks, no seeing my friends, no papa and nana and no running through the daffys with Roxy. Mum says it will be back to normal soon but dads not so sure. He got sick a few years ago and his immune system is not working properly so he has been told to stay in to keep safe and we are all doing the same to protect him.
We do have a walk everyday though in the forest behind our house, dad says if he we didn’t, he would go crazy and I think I’m the same. Getting out and exploring the forest is what I look forward to most just now and every day we see something different or something that makes me feel like everything will be ok. For example, last week we were out walking in a new trail that we found, and dad suddenly said “Shhhh!”, “Quiet look on the tree”. I stopped in my tracks, giving Roxy a gentle tug on her lead to do the same and right next to us on a branch at eye level was the most handsome Robin. He genuinely seemed interested to meet us, not scared at all and as we spoke to him, he sung back to us proudly.
I had packed some apples to eat on our journey and dad said “Hey give me one of those apples from your bag”. I unzipped my backpack and handed dad the tastiest looking apple out of the bunch and he started to take small bites out of it then throw it on the ground below the tree where Robin was perched still singing to us. The robin swooped down to the ground, hopping daintily around the small pieces of apple then took one of the pieces in his beak and flew back to the branch he had previously been perched on. He crunched down on the tasty white flesh of the apple and then as we watched on beaming with smiles, he proceeded to do the same with all the other little pieces dad had thrown down on the ground for him to enjoy. We watched this merry scene for what felt like ages and never even once thought about lockdown or corona Virus. Mesmerised by this happy wee creature enjoying our offering, a harmony between humans and animals. A special moment that made me feel connected to this world we live on.
The moment was broken suddenly when I was conscious I could hear the sound of rain drops ‘pitter, pitter, pitter patter, pitter patter. Dad also must have woken from the serenity of the moment and said “C’mon guys let’s get going in case it turns heavy. How nice was that?”
“Amazing dad” I replied, “I think he is our new friend”. Dad chuckled to himself and said “Ha ha Aye I think you’re right there” “Funny wee creatures, Grandma Jenny used to say that Robins are the souls of loved ones that have passed away and that’s why they are so friendly”
“You think?” I said
“No, Nae really”, he replied smiling then proceeded to put his hands up like a ghost and say “ooohahaha”. I also laughed and we started the journey back through the woods home. The funniest thing was the Robin followed us most of the way back through the forest, hopping and flying tree to tree until eventually he flew off and we didn’t see him again. It was if he wanted to return the favour of the company and tasty snack so thought he would help us get back safely. Well either that or he thought we maybe had more apples.
As we approached our house the rain did start to get heavier and I said to dad. “Thanks for coming walking today, I can’t wait to tell mum about our new wee friend” Dad didn’t reply but smiled lovingly and put his hand on my back as I opened the door and entered the house.

https://www.instagram.com/pauleynic/

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Mr by David W Westwood

As a single gay man living alone, with life long mental health problems (OCD, Anxiety and depression) the lockdown and the additional isolation inspired to to create an artwork that shouts from within. The attached painting has been recently exhibited at a school of medicine for trainee doctors.


Artist statement
I am a single gay man who has mental health problems. I suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression and Anxiety. I turned to painting in 2013 when a 9-year relationship gay ended. My evenings became lonely, so I painted to fill an empty space. My disabilities give me the ability to visualise complex things. I paint what I feel about what I see rather than merely what I see.


I am self-taught as an artist and paint in the impressionist, naive style. I began in watercolours and moved quickly to painting in oils and mixed media on canvas board.

www.mallardip.com

Memory by Janet Stafford

Memory is a wall-size oil painting that contemplates time and space and the human activity of remembering. Does remembering something remove it from the constraints of time and space? Or do those elements become one with the memory? Just some thoughts.

Artist statement

I have always worked in series—streams of thoughts and desires common to us all, represented by images. I see the images as signs of the material world, intimations of the nonmaterial.

At first my series were narrative, encompassing quotidian aspects such as romantic love and building construction. And I considered ideas—enlightenment, science, memory. Now I am thinking about nature and our planet.

For my series, I think a long time about what I want to talk about, then I photograph that idea and use those photographs as the basis for eight to twenty paintings, all of which have typically been on one or two supports. The series I am working on now, Natural History, is a little different. It comprises thirty-three separate canvases.

Each one of the paintings in a series—or an entire series—can be shown by being scanned and enlarged, as a public presentation, or made smaller for private use, like a personal icon. I have made some very small, as stickers, and I have made some very large, wall-size, on paper.

While I work on Natural History, I also make other work— wall-size CP Trees, very small paintings on paper, and abstract nature-based pieces.

https://www.janetstafford.com

https://www.instagram.com/staffja2/

S/Confinamento by Francesca Fini


/S)CONFINAMENTONetworked digital performance for live webcam & synth // 2020Conceived and developed during the lockdown in Italy (1st March – 3rd May 2020)​
During the COVID-19 LockDown, the Italian squares, always so full of life and rowdy, were suddenly silent and deserted, while life was hidden invisibly inside the houses, inside the silent buildings that harmoniously surround them. Daily life, once feverish, has become a fleeting and ephemeral circumstance: the squares were controlled by police vans, enlivened by the flight of a seagull, by a flag in the wind, by a runner’s bicycle, by a couple wearing masks while walking the dog.


And so the loners adventuring in the confined city were narrative elements of a dystopian and cinematic story, which I started spying on avidly, through the dense system of tourist and surveillance webcams, accessible via the web, which I have discovered oversee almost every city in Italy.


While I was locked in my studio, it gave me relief to look ‘outside’, to spy those beautiful airy and sunny squares – the places where I would have had an aperitif and a nice dinner, under normal conditions, through this virtual window on my computer screen. I also came to project these images, on the wall of my room, as in a new panopticon urged by the discomfort of the quarantine.At that point, being an artist working with live media and interaction design, I decided to take the next step.


Through motion tracking technology, I grabbed the webcam feed and passed it to a software, specially compiled for this project, which records and visually tracks the movement of people, vehicles, and animals, processing all the data flow and turning it into a concert for synth: movements generate sounds, modulations, graphic visualisations, digital effects. Finally, I returned everything back to the network, through a series of live streaming on Facebook, in a creative ring of real-time manipulations and interpretations.


Website of the project: https://sconfinamento.tumblr.com/video recap of firts session during the first lockdown in Italy: https://vimeo.com/404843767

Artist statement
I’m an Italian artist working with experimental cinema, digital animation, new media, installation, and performance art.
I’ve have always explored those territories where art languages ​​hybridize, creating new contaminated and often unidentified objects. In particular, my work for some years has been dedicated to the search for a compromise (both theoretical and practical) between the ephemeral and elusive matter of live arts, and the language of video art, which by its nature is profoundly documentary, in its fixing forever the transitory image on a medium (physical or virtual).In the years, this video-performative research has led me to the creation of hundreds of short films and the production of three feature films, which mix and hybridize performance art, digital animation, costume design, and video art.
I’m always looking for new opportunities in order to challenge my objectives and broaden my research. And that is why I always apply for international festivals and residencies, especially those dedicated to live arts.


I am a contradictory and interdisciplinary person, fatally attracted to the paradox. Eternally fighting, and never worried about the final results or consequences, but fascinated by the path, by the meantile. For this same reason, I am obsessed with the digital deconstruction and re-interpretation of the great concept of the Body, especially the female one, while trying to maintain its savagery, its animal and organic nature.
My live projects often address issues related to the relationship between public and private spaces, between the show and the audience, representation and interaction, but also reflect on the influences of society on gender and women’s issues and the distortions in the perception of beauty produced by the market and mainstream media.


https://www.francescafini.com

Winter Blues in the Forest by Hayley Harrison

Winter blues in the forest (2020)

Digital C-type print (Fuji Crystal Archive Matt) 18 x 12 in, edition of 25

‘Winter Blues in the forest’ follows on from my previous sculptural piece ‘Winter blues’. It is photographed outside in an area of young trees in which friends and I gather. Though to others it may appear as a small cluster of trees, to us it is a forest.


The original series ‘Winter blues’ is made from discarded umbrella frames, plastic bags, recycled plastic Christmas tree, aluminium cans and rechargeable LED tea lights.


’Winter blues in the forest’ 2020Digital C-type print (Fuji Crystal Archive Matt) – edition of 25 18 x 12 inches £70 unframed


This print is part of the #artistsupportpledge
ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE is a generous culture and dynamic economy in support of artists and makers. The concept is a simple one. You post images of your work you are willing to sell for no more than £200 each (not including shipping.) Every time you reach £1000 of sales you pledge to buy another artist’s work for £200.

https://www.hayleyharrison.co.uk/shop