Dawn Days 2020

The Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 has had a huge impact on so many of us. As the situation is gradually easing, I have been reflecting upon this unusual time.

This was my view from Arran on 23rd March this year – lockdown day.

This truly has been such a beautiful place to be stuck and there is such a great sense of community spirit here. None the less, it has been an anxious time here, with many of our elderly population shielding and our small businesses closed, with no visitors allowed over from the mainland.

With only 10 days to go before my first solo show of the year, lockdown brought an abrupt end to excitement and preparations. It was not long before the remaining 2 solo shows of the year were also cancelled. Galleries closed and staff were furloughed. A very worrying time.

If there is one thing I have learned along the way, however, whilst we cannot control many things in life, we can control the way we react to them. As I was finding it hard to paint during the first few weeks, and several friends had asked if I would do some online drawing classes for their children and themselves, I bought a phone stand and sought to overcome my fear of being on camera. It was an interesting experience and helped a number of people reconnect with drawing.

You can find these drawing tutorials on YouTube here.

After a few weeks, the internet was awash with art activities – Isolation Art School on Instagram being a fantastic resource – filmed much more professionally than I could manage. It was time to get back to painting.

Around this time, one of my surfing friends, keen photographer and film maker, Mike Guest, was also reeling from a sudden lack of direction and no brief to focus on. Together with another surfer/photographer, Nick Pumphrey, Dawn Days of May was born. The idea was to get up an hour before dawn (known amongst surfers as ‘The Blue Hour’), get into the nearest piece of ocean and film the sunrise. It was so uplifting to watch their short videos and stills of these magical moments, and it was not long before musicians began adding sound bytes and wonderful collaborations were born. I decided to join them, as dawn and dusk provide the most interesting light for my subject matter. You can read more about the initiative here.

In time, I am hoping to develop a body of work around this special month of 4am rises. As I didn’t have access to my studio, I began working in watercolour from home.

It was interesting to return to this medium – like reconnecting with an old friend – and I have now purchased some new watercolour mediums to further experiment with. Look out for some sunrise paintings later this year!