Artistic life with Covid 19

18/04/2020

We may live in France, Russia, Germany or Sweden, we all have been in lockdown for weeks with no clue as to how many more weeks there will be. A reality that often has a heavy professional impact on our artists. To learn about this particular reality, I have asked them some questions and 11 of them have answered. So I present to you: Artistic life under Covid 19 lockdown.

 

Many artists, especially embroidery artists, do love their solitary lives. They often have their own workshop at home, and, as Ulla-Stina explains, “My studio is at home and I love spending my time there. That is what I normally do and it really doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Sunday.”

Ulla-Stina Wikander, End of discussion © Ulla-Stina Wikander
Nods – Embroidery and lockdown, my little working corner at home © Estelle Delphin Lobel

Strangely enough, many artists have encounter creative difficulties during these weeks – maybe too much stress? Masha has ideas but cannot put them into motion. Lada tries not to think too much (“Today’s trouble is enough for today.”) and she has not created anything new since it all started. Isobel has concentration issues even though she is used to work from home, alone. Energy is often lacking, on hold. Amina has ideas but do not dare to start a long project for fear of the future. But she does fill her notebook…

For Estelle, time has shrunk, contracted, it has become fragmented with all the extra tasks that fell on her (cooking for 5, following her kids instruction, working with IT tools she didn’t really know, etc. ). As she doesn’t have an internet connection at her workshop, she had to arrange a small corner at home for her work. “I feel like my house is eating me. »

Amina K / Stitch Floral (Russia)
“I’m a hand embroidery artist and blogger. I earn a living by selling PDF patterns with instructions and embroidery courses.”
Her website ; Instagram ; Shop ; On this site she sells, in French :  Modèle Henné d’or Modèle Rhodochrosite Modèle Rose d’ambre
Masah Reprintseva / MyrtusWorkshop (Russia)
“My life and all the activities are « stitched through » with embroidery or its history. Two months ago, I stopped a job at a school to work on my art… bad timing!”
Her websiteInstagram; On this site she sells, in French : Modèle Blanche Antiquité

If the fear of tomorrow does not impact their financial life, fear for their family and friends does: “I’m afraid my husband will lose his company; I’m stressed for my daughters who both have important exams to come…” (Pauline). “I’m worried about my husband as he has health problems. And for my parents: They’re both over 90 and are not allowed to see each other!” (Ulla-Stina)

For Anne, lockdown is a “normal situation”. She has been suffering from multiple sclerosis for the last 3 years. She continues to draw and stitch while hoping she will not get contaminated, as it could be fatal to her.

Anne Bernasconi – Hands at work  © Anne Bernasconi
Anne Bernasconi (France)
Embroidery artist: « I stitch or draw 365 days per year. »
Her PortraitInstagram
Pauline Texidor (France)
Embroidery artist: « I stitch 4 to 6 hours a day…”
Instagram ; She sells pattern in French :  Modèle Bouquet tatoué (here is the  English version) ; Modèle Fleur de Lotus (here is the English version)
Masha Reprintseva in her workshop © Masha Reprintseva

Financial impact
The financial impact is obviously deeper for those who live exclusively by their art. For some, like Masha or Jessica, it is a catastrophic event and solutions to find new revenues have to be found quickly. “I feel like I am in the middle of nowhere in the apocalyptic island with no money, limited water, and food, no map, blindfolded and I need to provide safety for my nearest and dearest…” (Masha) “Today, I have no idea if I will be able to continue my work.” (Estelle)

Coline Bavois / Desperateneedle (France)
« I create costume and I stitch. »
Instagram ; Her Portrait (here in English); She sells pattern in French : Modèle Broches sous-marines Modèle Corail Blanc (here is the English version)
Lada Neoberdina (Russian artist living in France)
Embroidery artist
Instagram ; Her site ; Her Portrait ; Exhibition in Roubaix

Everyone feels the crisis – with all the fairs and exhibitions closed. Lada organized a wonderful exhibition in Roubaix (I wrote an article about it on this website) – will it be on hold or cancelled, with all the work, the creativity and engagement it asked of her. Ulla-Stina worked months for her exhibition that was to open on April the 4th. Everything is on hold until next year – if it is still possible. Isobel saw two exhibitions cancelled, and Jessica lost all her classes. All those sources of revenues cancelled have an impact on the future: “Less revenues now means also less possibility for future projects.” (Ingo). For Estelle, it is more complicated. She doesn’t like social media which demands a lot of time. Moreover, her clients love the physical aspect of her work (texture, colours) – and this is difficult to put into photos.

Others are less impacted as they have another job (Ingo is a German teacher who can use videos to follow his students; Amina works online, etc.) but their small businesses, already in a fragile market, might collapse from this crisis.

Jessica Grimm © dr Jessica Grimm
Isobel Currie (England)
Embroidery artist : « My embroidery is central to my life.»
Her website Instagram ; Her Portrait 
Jessica Grimm (Dutch artiste living in Germany)
Embroidery artist, teacher and blogger
Her portrait ; Her blog ; Her classes ; Her FlossTube Channel ; French translation of one of her article ; French version of her Modèle Bonhomme Hiver

For most of them, stitching is a way to stay connected, like a therapeutic space to “stay alert”. But it might not be always possible. As Masha says: “I planned some project, bought some of my needed material. But now, I cannot purchase the rest as prices have risen and my revenues have stopped.”

Ingo Weisbarth (German artist living in  France)
« I teach German. Embroidery gives me energy and balance for my work. I stitch every day and have published some books about different techniques.”
His website Instagram ; his books (in French) : La Broderie suédoiseLa Broderie noire réinventée ; He sells pattern in French : Modèle Cube en Blackwork Modèle Neuf Coeurs Modèle Planche de broderie ; Modèle Fleurs de rubans 
Ulla-Stina Wikander (Sweden)
Embroidery artist: « My work means everything to me, so the word must be: love! »
Her website ; Instagram ; Her Portrait

Another creativity
But this difficult time also provides a time for reflection and creativity. After the first weeks, the artists usually start to create differently. “This period is like a time of being out of a comfort zone, a period of invention, personal growth and development.” (Masha) “I have a large stock of fabrics and threads available, but if l cannot get the materials I need, I will use the opportunity to explore new methods with the ones I do have- this may even lead me to new ideas and creativity!” (Isobel) Lada has a more bitter reflection: “Art has become a help, a mean to “pass the time”. I have the impression that artists must entertain the Country during this stressful time.”

Coline Bavois © Coline Bavois
Home page of Amina K’s website / Stitch Floral

Ingo and Ulla-Stina took this opportunity to clean up their workshops – while finding old projects that can be used for a new creation. “I have found old hand sketches that I can rework on my computer now. It might be usefully for the future. » (Ingo) « I haven’t had the time these last years to work without a pressure and a deadline. Now I feel free to do what comes into my mind, examine and research without knowing where it will lead. “ (Ulla-Stina)

Jessica has put in place 2 projects: a series of short lectures about Medieval embroidery (her FlossChanel) and a skype line to help stitchers with their projects.

Coline is working on her posture, damaged by hours of work!

The duration of the lockdown also changes everything. When it is 4 weeks, we can get organized with new dates for fairs and exhibitions in June. But when 4 weeks become 8, fear grows. “If all our events are concentrated in the fall, will there be enough public? Will they be willing to go to so many places? Will they be able? Who will still have the money to buy art?” (Estelle)

Pauline Texidor – Instagram account

Some of them hope that this crisis will open our conscience: “I really hope humanity as a whole takes this crisis as a kind of stocktake. What do we want? Can we find ways so that all people can live a meaningful life in dignity and in equilibrium with the environment?” (Jessica) “These conditions with quarantine and social distancing is something I hope we will learn a lot from. All these things that we take for granted, our freedom to do what we want when we want it. I am an artist and I can continue to work but suddenly everything is upside down. Maybe this is the time for us to slow down, look into ourselves, take time to do something we have wanted to do, learn to play an instrument, a new language.” (Ulla-Stina)

Ulla-Stina Wikander – Work in progress © Ulla-Stina Wikander

And tomorrow ?
For most of them, the next months will be very difficult: “Everything is on hold, it is impossible to imagine what tomorrow will be. I wonder how things will move on: suddenly or slowly? Will there be any work in the art department? And when?” (Coline) « We will have used all of our savings and we do not know if the government will help! » (Jessica). « I am concerned that many art venues and galleries, and small art and craft businesses will find it hard to continue and will require a lot of support. » (Isobel)

Nods – Work in progress © Estelle Delphin Lobel
Estelle Delphin Lobel / Nod’s in France
Embroidery artist: « I stitch from early in the morning to late at night.”
Her website Instagram ; Her Portrait 
Ingo Weisbarth working on his computer © Ingo Weisbarth

At last, there are some positive aspects: “I trust our scientists. They will find a treatment. We shouldn’t let fear dominate us. I follow the news both in the German and French media. It is interesting to see on which topics each of them focuses. It gives me a better perspective. Friends and family also give me the energy to move forward.” (Ingo) « I hope that some people may, during this enforced time of reflection, discover the joy and importance of arts and crafts in their lives.” (Isobel) « I did not know how high my penned-up stress levels were. Coming to a near complete standstill brought it to the surface. Corona is certainly teaching me to keep a closer eye on my own well-being.” (Jessica) “Maybe the opening-up of the confinement will create new things, new ways of doing things.” (Coline)

Optimism is also necessary, even (or above all) in fragile situations: “I keep on creating new works for a hopeful future.” (Estelle).

Meanwhile, Lada starts to see cross stitches everywhere !

Cross stitches play and pixelized wall © Lada Neoberdina

The content of this site is free and is not damaged by un-welcomed publicity. I do this work with love and passion but it requires a lot of time. I would like to continue to offer a wider market to our artists, to show how embroidery is a wonderful art. But I do need a little bit of help. If you feel like it, you can participate with a little donation to help me continue. I will be so grateful! Thank you! Claire

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