Fictional life series by That.Artist.Megan

These are a series called fictional life. I created during the pandemic reflecting on the limitations and restrictions put in place by the government and WHO. I reflected on how I felt very confined and helpless during lockdowns.

I began printmaking during my Fine Art degree at the University of Ulster. Going on to do my Masters in Multi-Disciplinary Printmaking at the University of the West of England. Completing various residencies, most recently in the biology department at the University of the West of England.

My practice combines microbiology and printmaking, primarily focusing on screen print. I enjoy experimenting with the aesthetics of microbiology; playing with pattern, scale and texture, to reveal the beauty that lies beneath the surface.

Within the microbiology genre I investigate the growth, mutation and change of bacteria and fungus. I find the colours incredible, using them as a colour pallet for my other prints. I generally use first hand imagery distorting textures, colours and opacities to construct a series of unique prints.

I became interested in the sublime and the connections between the micro and macro world. Looking closely at the growth of bacteria and the patterns it produced was incredible. Looking beyond the surface level of bacteria often leaves us feeling like a small spec on the universe, in awe of what is going on around us and the beauty we find in it.

Going forward I want to explore the transparency of inks and surface textures, creating unique and unusual prints, reflecting on the bacterium and fungus I have grown.


Divorce-19 by Ellie Waters

A digital diary and out reach, my attempts to stay sane and stay connected with the outside world when me and my parents found ourselves testing positive for Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic.

This project, displayed in digital format, initially through my instagram account and now my website, explores our ‘six week crash course’ with dealing with the virus, and each other.

Project introduction:

Dad was the 49th person in New Zealand to test positive for Covid- 19, kick starting my six-week crash course on how to live with (tolerate) your parents whilst infected with a potentially deadly virus.

If I were to sum up 2020 in one word it would be ‘frantic’ or ‘cheese-on-toast’. It was treacherous, scary and overall slow but for me it was also precious. It was a period of time I otherwise would not have spent with my hilarious – and at times highly agitating – parents.

What follows here is my somewhat ‘lockdown diary’, funny at times and slightly triggering at others. I hope by sharing our story I can contribute to the wider conversation of ‘lockdown’ and how that looked and felt for different people. Which, in this case was one confirmed positive, two probable’s and a dog that had no choice but to be there.

A photo-based artists, I often work on long-term social documentary projects exploring my built and natural environments. With my own history of emigration, from Northern England to Aotearoa, New Zealand (and back and forth), my work often challenges notions of home and belonging, and how we come to identify with our landscape.

Covid Coil by Kirsta McSkimming

Covid Coil is an evolving interactive textile sculpture worked over the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. This piece is a highly personal piece, which uses scrap wool and found objects to represent the isolation, anxiety, and loss experienced during the pandemic.

On the 21st of March 2020, I cast on 60 stitches – each stitch represented a second and each row represented a minute. As I knitted, these seconds and minutes grew into hours, days, weeks and months – eventually completing the first knitted coil on the 21st March 2021. The completed coil marked the first year of Covid and was a strong visual symbol of living through a pandemic. At this point I began knitting a second coil, which was completed on the 21st March 2022.


Undertow by Amber Penney

“Undertow” Mixed Media collage art print on paper 2022
“Not Waving But Drowning” mixed media art print on paper 2022
“It Comes In Waves” Mixed Media art print on paper 2022
“Grow From Trauma” Mixed media art print on paper 2022

I am a self-taught artist residing in Chicago, IL. I create mixed media art prints and designs that have a contemporary and abstract aesthetic. My art’s main themes focus on well-being, personal growth, women empowerment, mythology, nature and esoteric philosophies. I draw inspiration from poetry which provides vivid descriptive imagery for her creative process. Music also is a major component of my creative process, using the tone of music to emote a certain feeling in my work.

My artwork collection is titled Amber Waves
Theme is Personal Growth and Healing
This collection is personal to me as it represents my journey through depression, denial and therapy. It is a statement about growing from your trauma which will lead to the healing process. Your soul will blossom into something profound and beautiful if you allow yourself to feel and accept the difficulties of your trauma and learn to forgive and love yourself as you are.

Reflecting on Wired Women* by Ailie Rutherford

I was invited to work with NEoN Digital Arts in 2021 on a festival titled Wired Women, as Scotland was still in partial “lockdown”. In 2022 NEoN commissioned me to write this piece reflecting on how my work as guest co-curator of Wired Women* relates to where NEoN Digital Arts is now.

My first question was around inclusion, to check that “Wired Women” would be a transgender and non-binary inclusive festival. So the asterisk was added, defining Wired Women* as inclusive of transgender and intersex women, as well as non-binary and gender-fluid people who are comfortable in a space that centres the experience of women. As an artist and occasional curator working on feminist projects, artworks and collaborations it has become increasingly important to define this feminism as inclusive of all genders marginalised under patriarchy. This is for two reasons: as trans visibility has risen in recent years, we have seen a rise in transphobia and exclusionary feminism. It is part of a feminist ethic of care to speak back to this, to support trans rights as human rights.

Meanwhile, as the understanding of gender as a colonial construct comes further into the mainstream, we have seen an attack on feminist and women-led spaces. It is vitally important that while we address gender as a colonial construct, we continue to create and defend spaces for women and marginalised genders, because gender-based discrimination remains a very real threat. I brought to my work with NEoN in 2021, several years of experience working as artistic director with Feminist Exchange Network (FEN), a Glasgow based women-led* collective using social and activist arts practices to explore ways of putting feminist economics into practice in community contexts. We recently issued a collective statement on the continued need for feminist spaces, delving more deeply into these issues [i]

Something that has been central to my work with FEN and my wider artistic practice is a feminist ethic of care; conversations around what this means in practice, how it relates to peoples lived experiences, what radical feminist governance might look like and how we enact this in a hetero-patriarchal & neoliberal world [ii]. Having created artworks around this concept for many years, it was interesting to see conversations on care becoming prominent during lockdown and “feminist ethics of care” infiltrating the language of organisations. In 2019 I had begun looking at how this feminist ethic of care related to digital justice, working with creative technologists Bettina Nissen and Libby Odai on the development of feminist tech, we were interested in the potential for emerging tech to disrupt established power structures [iii]. Then the following year (coinciding with lockdown) on the co-design of prototype collaborative software for collective working centred on a principle of mutual care and co-operation, String Figures [iv].

I brought this work with me to my role as guest curator on Wired Women*, seeing the festival as an opportunity to do more than simply celebrate women in tech, but to question the hetero-patriarchy of corporate digital space and its control over our lives. This felt particularly urgent against the backdrop of an ongoing lockdown when so much of our communications, collaborations and interactions had become reliant on and mediated through technology. I saw this as an opportunity to invite women and non-binary artists who were creating exciting works, providing some possible solutions, queering digital space, proposing feminist internets and opening up access to online art:

Rosana Cade’s work on access and inclusion in online art [v], Fannie Sosa’s work to create an interactive WIG [vi], Sprinkle Stephens work connecting care for the more than human world with queer love and sexuality through digital collage [vii] and Padmini Ray Murray, an artist I had first met during a lab for the incredible Unbox [viii] festival in India, whose work explores how technology can be feminist, decolonial, local and ethicali [x].

Originally written about my work on String Figures, but fitting with the approach I was taking to Wired Women*, this quote from my website was used in publicity for the festival: As our every experience is commodified online and our inter-relationships are increasingly trackable, traceable, and data-mineable the project looks at how we can take more care in our digital lives. If the web 2.0 is a fucked up racist, transphobic, misogynist shit-show of extraction and exploitation, then let’s imagine the feminist tools of the new web, a digital commons where we can pool our collective resources to build the systems we need to support each other. A space where we are not mind-controlled by state-corporate collaborations but able to collaborate with our peers in a way that can never be owned or co-opted or sold back to us.

Alongside the theory and speculative works, it felt important to me that this move towards a more feminist ethic of care in a digital arts organisation was coupled with some practical moves away from big tech. I worked closely with NEoNs Development Officer to test out various non-profit and open source alternatives that NEoN might adopt inplace of its reliance on corporate tech. It’s hard to know since finishing in my role as guest curator how much of this has had a long-term impact on NEoN in practical terms but encouraging to see that their current Trans*Feminist Counter Cloud Action Plan looks to be building on what we started.

Activating a truly inclusive feminist practice of care is always more complicated and messy in practice than it looks on paper (or on screen). It is often, by necessity, about finding an acceptable balance that is good enough for now, safe enough to tryx as we try to make this work while staying afloat and sustaining ourselves under capitalism, accepting that arts and academic funding streams often come via neoliberal mechanisms.

Other Scottish arts organisations are putting this into practice, below are two examples from organisations I have recently worked with to Map Below the Waterline [xi]:

Rumpus Room [xii], a feminist artist-led initiative in Glasgow have a practice of care that is immediately obvious from first encounter. The care they extend beyond their immediate circle of co-directors and committee members to all those who engage and work with them is noticeable because it is unusual. Care permeates through everything they do, even their paperwork, with an agreement for freelancing artists that includes a “Statement of Collective Care”

ATLAS organises collective art projects across Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh on the North West coast of Scotland. They invited me to work with them to map how the economy of their arts organisation intersects with the island ecologies.[xiii] The ethic of care and hospitality, practiced by co-directors Yvonne Billimore and Joss Allen is part of the organisations move into working on community economy practices, connecting ecology, economy and care in a way that values highly the work of caring for everyone involved, reaching far beyond the self-care of the organisation. A more in-depth look at my work with ATLAS is in my chapter “Love Proliferating Outwards” in Rehearsing Hospitalities Companion 4 published by Frame Contemporary Art Finland and Archive Books. [xiv]

Article commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts

Image credit: Mapping Below the Waterline by Ailie Rutherford for ATLAS, 2022 Published in Rehearsing Hospitalities
Companion 4, 2022, edited by Yvonne Billimore and Jussi Koitela

Alt text for image: block print image in black and white, using symbols to map intersecting economies of care with red pen lines showing connections. Handwritten notes on the map read: Love, Pathways, What is a hopeful economy?

[x] From the 7th principle of sociocracy in consensus decision making

Trapped by Silvia Cristobal Alonso

Lockdown has changed how we approach the external world and the concept of home. Feelings of confinement and fear run in our blood system with the anxiety of becoming teachers, housekeepers and office workers at the same time. We are allowed only to see and hear, but not to smell or taste the outside world. We are influenced by our subjective imaginations, interpretations and projections, which we use to fill out the gaps of the unknown. In Nature, we seek refuge and freedom and the function of the garden without the household becomes vital to be able to confront hardships. It’s in there, on the leaves falling from the tree where I found the inspiration to create textural prints that convey a sense of being chaotically trapped and scared about this global pandemic. Trapped is a reflection of different emotions trying to understand the times we are living.; a choky shout trying to reach the family I wish to hold in my arms with the fear I won’t be able to do it anymore.

Silvia’s main concerns within her art practice are underpinned by her cultural background, with an interest in how we consider our cultural and personal identities and memories. She looks to nature and poetry to explore these ideas within her practice, often using photographic imagery and found elements from her surroundings as metaphor for events of the past.

She has a background of farming within her family so she feels a strong connection with the Spanish landscape. Botany is the link to bring her work together with the place where she came from and to represent struggle as the essence of life. As herman de vries said about our relationship with the land “without our relationship with Nature, our life and culture are lost, and how these two components in our lives influence one another”, in a way to recognise who we are. Letting the place to inspire you and remember past life experiences, sometimes through a colour or a smell, allows us to reflect and understand better the world.

Most of Silvia’s work are influenced by childhood memories, family traditions, values and beliefs. Lockdown changed how we approach the external world and the concept of home, and reminded us to pay attention around us to connect with life without fear.
Being always fascinated by how textures and shapes in everyday objects can tell past stories, she uses windows and doors as a metaphor for change and freedom but mainly to invite the viewer to interpret their own view of reality.