I’ve been looking over the last few months and looking forward to the next few now! How hopeful is it to have the vaccines and to feel that despite the corner still being huge, there is one? The arrival of a vaccine is monumental for the the world, yet it will arrive in small vials, delivering even tinier matter to course through our bodies.
It struck me that art-making throughout the pandemic has been a bit similar. The role creativity has played for many people has been monumental in terms of wellbeing, change, togetherness and some kind of inoculation against circumstances of struggle. Individually, what we do may seem less monumental yet no less essential – running through our self, protecting our wellbeing as we learn to ‘do differently’.
I have actually done quite a bit when I look back, but it’s a collection of smaller things (apart from one!). This time last year I wrote saying 2020 would be the year I ‘go big’. Well I think we can safely say it’s been a big year, but not in terms of my scale of work. I wrestled with it for a while and pretty quickly decided that it’s not going to happen yet. It may do, with practice. Growing through small changes may eventually result in a change of scale but I can’t upscale suddenly. I have a couple of pieces on the back burner that may end up a decent size, but they are made up of smaller things.
In fact, I was talking with a close friend about what I’d been up to and how it was different and small not necessarily what I expected to be doing and these were her words:
‘I believe that the subconscious takes over firmly at times to look after us at a deep level and that is when we make the things that feel like side steps, like a tug on the sleeve, a tap on the shoulder, a surprise … often when it feels least ‘convenient’. It sounds like it’s minding you perfectly.’
These words helped me to recognised that working smaller, having things that felt more contained, doable, more easy to respond to, feels good at the moment and it was a part of me ‘minding myself’. I’m not very good at talking kindly to myself sometimes!
So maybe thinking back over 2020, perhaps there is a list of smaller things that you may not have noticed but which add up – they’ve nurtured you and kept you well and safe, they’ve shown you a change of direction, created surprise, or cemented something you realise you love. Perhaps the big achievement for many of us this year will simply be all our small ones, whatever they are, arty or otherwise. x