We catch up with Stratford Arts Social: At Home artist Louisa Tock about how her work has changed since lockdown, how is managing her day-to-day, and what she thinks this might mean for the arts in the future.
How has your practice been affected by lockdown?
My practice has been completely changed by lockdown. My income has dramatically reduced, my time available to work has dramatically reduced and I’ve had the rug pulled from under my feet as far as focus, inspiration and direction are concerned.
What did a normal day look like a few months ago, and how does it look now?
Previously a normal day would be taking my children to school, working at home planning or researching for a future lesson or pitching or applying for new work. Possibly meeting a colleague for collaboration work or visiting a gallery or particular show relevant to either my practice or teaching. I might have a lesson teaching in the afternoon then spend the late afternoon/early evening with my family.
Now, I start the working day getting my older son who is at secondary school settled with his school work then I begin home learning activities with my younger son until lunchtime. After lunch we all do some exercise together and then relax with various creative exercises that entertain the children (trying not to switch the telly on). Afternoon/evenings are taken up with more games, board games or an activity in the garden, which we are lucky enough to have. I don’t have the same lessons to plan for anymore although I am still writing notes when I have the time.
Any work that I do have, I tend to do in the evening after 9pm as there is no other time in the day suitable to sit down and concentrate without being interrupted.
Do you have any advice for artists on how they might utilise their time during lockdown?
Accept the change, don’t put pressure on yourself to be creative. The ability of being able to make artwork is never going to disappear, it will still be there when you go back to it. You might even be better for the break. There are a million ways to still be creative without making ‘artwork’. Learning with my son is a creative pursuit, gardening is creative. Being resourceful with materials and food supplies is creative. Hanging out with my family and just being appreciative of what I have is an achievement.
Just try and have a notebook handy for any ideas that you don’t have time to commit to right now.
Have you done anything creative in the last month?
I tried to make some work early on, under the misconception that I had more free time. I struggled with concentration and focus which I still do, the uncertainty of the world that surrounds us is a massive distraction. I have made artwork which I wouldn’t usually make and don’t particularly like. I started writing a diary. I've also started to crochet again.
The videos I've been making for Stratford Circus' Stratford Arts Social: At Home have been really enjoyable. I write notes during the day for ideas and make the videos in the evenings.
Are you optimistic about the industry post-lockdown?
I am generally an optimistic person, however post lockdown is going to be a challenge. Art is all too often undervalued and underappreciated, I don’t believe governments (local and national) have the imagination to utilise the creatives and artists to help with the journey out of lockdown. Therefore artists must rise to the challenge (as usual) of getting themselves noticed and valued in a new world.
What are your concerns about the impact of lockdown to the arts industry and your practice?
I am worried that what little existence of art teaching there is in schools will be lost in a panic to ‘catch up’ with academic subjects. My own practice will continue again when I’m ready and able, it will evolve and develop again as it has before after periods of massive change in my life. I think post Brexit, Trump and Johnson, the art world was already in a very precarious position of little or no importance so if things don’t return to they way they were before coronavirus perhaps that’s no bad thing?
Find her on Instagram: @walkwithlouisa