The Artists’ Pool showcase an imaginative response to Lockdown in “Times Like These” @ Dundas Street Gallery
“The Artist’s Pool was established in 2004 with the intention of embracing the power of art to bring people together and support their creativity. Each member brings their unique personality and skill set to the pool – a mixture of cultures and experiences with an harmonious goal – to promote the positivity, connectivity and healing power of art.’
In their latest showcase, “Times Like These”, group of nine artists give a personal response to finding their lives turned upside down by lockdown. When the rushing abruptly ceased, all routines fell out of the window and living in the present became the only option. There’s little normal about the ’new normal’.
There is extraordinary creativity here, a fascinating sweep of varied genres from contemplative seascapes and updated versions of classic works, to colourful abstracts and Graphic Art. Here is look around the work of four of the artists.
During World War 2, morale-boosting notices encouraged the British people to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, which has in recent years been endlessly adapted into humorous phrases such as “Save Water, Drink Champagne”.
At the start of lockdown in March 2020, the stark warning has been “Stay Home, Save Lives”. This was the impetus for Adam Lucy to invent a series of Pop Art, public service announcements.
” I would never have believed the extent of the disruption and turmoil the world would experience due to COVID-19. A bundle of art and fashion magazines and a limited palette of acrylic paints I managed to grab from my studio, provided the materials for the work you see here”. Adam Lucy
With reference to Dorothy’s dream in The Wizard of Oz, clicking her sparkly red shoes, “There’s No Place like Home” echoes BoJo’s plea to the nation on 23rd March. This neatly-crafted collage of cut-out letters and pasted images, creates a witty and wise warning.
Likewise, in “You Have the Power” a God-like figure points his outstretched finger at Everyman/woman to adhere to the rules. Reminscent of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam, the meaning is about the spark of life and humanity. These modern Keep Calm-style posters in the era of the global pandemic are effective, graphic illustrations to spread the word.
Esperanza Gómez-Carrera also uses text in her artwork made from vintage books with imaginative vision. Her father’s family were in the bookbinder business, and she grew up in a house filled with books. With charming theatricality, she makes cut out, Intervened books, such as “Love Lyrics”, which features a tiny doll’s house-sized bride and groom at their wedding.
“ I work with sculptures, installations and performances” she explains. “For the most part, I enjoy exploring and re-interpreting everyday objects in humorous ways. It is always with a sense of respect that I give books a new chance at life and share a different message.”
Also on show are several atmopheric seascapes by Helen Campbell such as the dark, threatening rain clouds in “Evening Light.” The fading glimmer of dusk shimmers on the rough waves, as the eye is drawn to the misty distant horizon.
The tiny figure, just visible to the left on the beach was apparently added at the last moment, to give perspective. There is a real sense of isolation here, this lonely soul braving the elements.
During lockdown she spent a good deal of time embracing the natural world near her home in the New Forest.
“ I learned birdcalls, studied the night sky, sat and watched the deer at dusk. I stopped and looked, slowly calming down and recalling why I love the changing seasons. These paintings come from moments in my life when I was truly ‘there’ and remind me not to lose that connection so easily again.” Helen Campbell
“Against the Light” is a mesmerising scene, where a bright, gold-flamed, surreal spectre stands staring out to sea, again denoting solitude away from humanity and society. Some viewers may find a religious connotation in this haunting image.
Inspired by the work of the classic Masters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Titian and Jacques Louis David, John Slavin has updated the narrative of historical, Biblical and legendary events for the present global crisis.
As a homage to Jacques Louis David’s original painting, “Belisarius Begging for Alms,” reflects the widespread situation of begging in city streets and metro stations today. Slavin noticed that during the Pandemic, when the streets were deserted, homeless people in Edinburgh were given accommodation and financial support.
‘Babel Tower’ is his reimagination of Bruegel’s ‘The Great Tower of Babel’, 1563.
‘I’m concerned with the fall of the tower, the aftermath of incommunicable shock and the silent nature of Babel. What are the consequences of total collapse, …. that the state is compromised, as has been the case with covid-19.”
“Times Like These” is a thought-provoking and inspiring exhibition which reflects the artists’ personal emotions, experiences and vision of this brave new, socially distanced and disrupted world.
Dundas Street Gallery, 6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
21 – 29 August, 2020
For more information on The Artists’ Pool, this exhibition and the artists: