These paintings aim to spark conversation about alternative viewpoints of the lockdown, pandemic and related news stories. They delve into feelings about illness, mental health, shielding and various interpretations on what is happening in the world.
They represent different aspects of the lockdown and social, political and medical issues surrounding the pandemic.
What is really going on in these paintings? They have seemingly self-explanatory titles, but hide clues of alternative meanings. To create drama and tension, I have used bright, vibrant colours to add life to otherwise bleak representations and often left large areas uncoloured or neutral to isolate that area from the rest of the image. I have played with perspective, used geometrical designs and left out details, to give the illusion of silhouetted figures, natural forms and surreal landscapes. All of this is to encourage the viewer to 'fill in the gaps', 'join the dots' and come to their own conclusions.
Each painting can be read in multiple ways and highlight the core values and beliefs of the viewer - they become a mirror to what that person already holds in their heart.
20 x 20” oil on canvas
This is the painting that started my Lockdown Collection. I wanted to express my feelings about being in lockdown and shielding due to my illness. I had only recently had my autoimmune disease diagnosed (Ulcerative Colitis) and had already been unable to leave my home for months due to the symptoms.
There is a lot of symbolism in this painting. The robin (being the universal symbol of the afterlife) was especially poignant for me, as a friend had recently passed away and I was not allowed to attend the funeral. The robin is depicted trying to fly away, but is chained to an unravelling colon. This signifies the feelings of restriction due to the illness and also the lockdown. There are repeated images of the colon in the background, to signify my continued awareness of my condition. The paint is applied with a dripping technique and the criss-cross pattern is reminiscent of a bird’s gilded cage. The foliage and the rose hint at a typical English garden, as that is where many were spending their lockdown time in the first few months. As I wasn't lucky enough to have a garden, this was just a dream for me. The yellow of the rose is symbolic of friendship as it was friends and family that were supporting many during those difficult times...although their was a heightened awareness of those who were struggling on their own.
WHO’S IN YOUR BUBBLE?
12 x 16” oil and hand sanitiser on canvas
This painting is quietly referencing the ‘social bubbles’ that were introduced early on in the lockdown guidelines. It asks the viewer to think about the importance of friendship and also loneliness and isolation created by these bubbles. Is the woman on her own content with her solitude, as she wears her mask and reads her book; or would she rather be engaging in conversation with the young couple? Who are the young couple and should they be together? Perhaps they are family, or from the same household. Does it matter and will we continue to make assumptions about people in this way, now that restrictions have been lifted?
I have painted the figures to look unfinished and ‘sketched’, as if only taking a snapshot of their lives, as we can never truly know who they are. This also creates a contrast between the people (and their situation) and the lush green surroundings – highlighting the theme of separation and the surreal existence we are now all living.
20 x 16” oil on canvas
‘Just Breathe’ was a reaction to the government advice to wear a mask/face covering and the anxiety experienced by those who were exempt. It references the feeling of claustrophobia and inability to breathe freely. It was painted during the time of the Black Lives Matter protests, where the slogan ‘I can’t breathe’ appeared on placards and t-shirts, etc.
The red layered background adds to the feeling of claustrophobia and the drama and passion of the protests and debates about mask wearing. The blue reflects the pure, fresh air associated with deep breathing and wide-open spaces.
I chose to portray a young, healthy looking female to highlight that not every disability is visible and ask the viewer: would you judge her for not wearing a mask, or allow her to just breathe?
IN THIS TOGETHER
16 x 20” oil on canvas
After hearing and reading ‘in this together’ repeated on so many different media outlets, I wanted to interpret it in a painting. It had become almost a chant all over the world, so I felt that it didn’t need much of an explanation. Instead, I decided to play with the concept and raise questions: who exactly are we in this together with? Is it the cats that are together and the owner is isolated and shielding?
At first glance, the viewer may presume that they are covid viruses outside, but upon closer inspection they are all different and unique. They represent the many viruses (coronavirus and others) and bacteria that we live with and our immune systems battle every day. In this painting I have shown a stark contrast between the sterile, white interior and the vibrant colourful exterior. Are the cats longing to be outside, with the lively viruses? With life? Notice also that I have signed my name in multicolours…a hint at where I’d rather be!
22 x 16/16 x 22” [Interchangeable – can be hung either portrait or landscape] oil on canvas
The title is self-explanatory, although the images, perhaps, are not. Firstly, I have used the same sterile looking background as ‘In This Together’. The social bubbles from ‘Who’s In Your Bubble?’ have also made a reappearance, this time they are empty. The snakes under the arc of the rainbow symbolise evil, deception and death.
As news stories continue to be accentuated with a daily death count many were starting to research other alternatives to lockdown – herd immunity being one.
The rainbow of butterflies asks the viewer to remain hopeful, whilst also drawing our attention to the fallen – the herd continue to stay together, united in a burst of rainbow colours, as broken wings glide down towards the snakes. These broken butterflies could also be symbolic of the many suffering poor mental and physical health as a result of the lockdowns. In this painting, we are faced with the hard question: do we stay ‘in this together’ and allow some to break their wings and fall, or is there another way?
22 x 16” oil on canvas
There is a pun on the word ‘solution’ here, as the vaccine itself is a liquid solution for injection. What this painting is really asking is: is worldwide vaccination an adequate solution or is there a better way to deal with a pandemic? The title also hints to the Nazi ‘solution’ of exterminating millions of Jews, sick, elderly and mentally ill people during WW2, as similarities have been made in controversial alternative press articles.
This painting intends to encourage conversations about whether we should allow our children to be vaccinated and if testing and vaccinations should be handled by schools. It also shines a light on the safety of our children in schools.
The children are depicted in white and blue, to reflect their purity and separation from the more alarmist red background with the repeated syringe symbols. If you zoom in on one of the backpacks, you’ll notice the word ‘cuties’, which references a film that was causing a lot of outrage at the time this was painted, as it was said to strip children of their innocence and was aimed at paedophile viewers.
The virus turning into a dandelion represents the passing of time and asking: how long would it take to find a better solution?
MSM: MAINSTREAM MEDUSA
30 x 20” oil on canvas
The idea for MSM began after I heard stories about ‘pizzagate’: a suspected paedophile ring that spans the globe and includes the elite and even royalty, using underground chambers and tunnels to store and transport the children, who are ordered under the guise of pizza delivery. The stories also speak of children being groomed from an early age through popular TV programmes and Disney films. I was fascinated by this urban legend and wanted to capture the darkness and horror.
At the same time, many stressed parents were trying to home-school their children and using the TV to distract and keep them occupied outside of ‘school hours’, whilst trying to continue working from home during lockdown. I wanted to reference these troubled times for families and the importance of keeping younger generations safe from harm. Therefore, the painting is both disturbing and mesmerising. The ‘medusa’ central image on the TV screen does not have the typical snakes in her hair, although there are faint, hidden, blue snake symbols in the background; but she does have the piercing, hypnotic, reptilian eyes, which have turned her young viewers to stone. The background is purposely dark and foreboding, with a connective pattern to ask the viewer to connect the dots. Can you also see the reference to pizzagate?
16 X 22” oil on canvas
This is a sombre study of a vulnerable older woman looking through her window. She has not dressed and is shown in a dressing gown and shower cap, suggesting that she has nothing to get dressed for. The interior view of the window and figure is painted in greys and muted colour to reflect her mood; whilst the exterior is in stark white to contrast this and hint at the obsession for sanitising in the ‘new normal’ world we now live in.
The viewer is led to question the ethics of the lockdowns and cutting off our most elderly and vulnerable from society. It also references the trend for painting rainbows and placing them in windows, to show support for the NHS, who are reported to be overwhelmed. This painting asks the viewer to determine who needs protection the most: the elderly and vulnerable, who are suffering from loneliness and isolation, which in turn affects their physical and mental health; or the overwhelmed NHS who are reportedly short of beds and understaffed?
16 x 22” oil on canvas
This painting is questioning how statistics and the law have been manipulated during the lockdowns from all sources and how we are all judged by our actions in such difficult, confusing times.
I have used a grid pattern to mimic graph paper and bars and lines to show the peaks and dips of statistical graphs – these are not measured or accurate, to show unreliable information that can be misinterpreted.
The central figure is ‘lady justice’. I have portrayed her without her usual blindfold, instead she wears a mask and displays her blindness proudly. She has the number 61 on her chest, referencing article 61 of the Magna Carta, which many are turning to as a solution to corruption in the Government.
In one hand she holds a mobile phone, to signify that all the information we need to research is right at our fingertips. In the other she holds a traditional set of scales. On these scales she is weighing a human heart against the weight of a feather. This is illustrating the ancient Egyptian ceremony of the afterlife - the feather represents truth and justice.
How heavy is your heart – do you stand up for your convictions?
OFF THE GRID
16 x 22” oil on canvas
This is a very playful, somewhat whimsical nod towards terminology used throughout the lockdowns, particularly in the UK. Whilst many are chanting “in this together” and clapping for the NHS on a Thursday, sceptics are referring to these people as ‘sheep’ and suggesting that they are going along with the flock without researching or prioritising informed consent. In these difficult times, many are voicing a desire to ‘live off the grid’ and disconnect themselves from a failing society.
In this painting I show a flock of sheep evaporating and joining the universe as stars. They are becoming enlightened by what the black sheep is telling them. Although the sheep at the front are looking particularly docile and passive, they remain stubbornly in place.
What do you think the black sheep is saying? It asks the viewer: are your ideas fixed, influenced by others, or open to change?
THE GROUNDED TRAVELLER
24 x 36” oil on canvas
This began as a reaction to reports that travellers were stranded and separated from their families and home countries at the start of the first lockdown. However, once I started painting, it took on more meaning. I wanted it to show both sensitivity and strength through tough times and also convey the feeling that the world had stopped and was frozen in time.
The man depicted is waiting in the snowy silence and looking far out into the distance, as if held in limbo as he awaits the next lockdown instruction. The snowflakes are a reference to the description of ‘millennials’ – an overused derogatory term to suggest that this generation are overly sensitive, entitled and weak. Instead, I wanted to show the beauty and calm presence of the snowflakes, as a sign of unity and connection to nature, with a healthy awareness of mental health. The man stands tall and firm on a shrunken world, in mindful consciousness of his situation and the rain and snow around him.
The aeroplane routes shown in the sky hint at travel restrictions, but also the hopes and dreams of the man. Perhaps the routes are also memories of previous travels, wishes of a return to normality and his traveller lifestyle, or even secret flights that we are not privy to. As we are unable to plan ahead, this painting asks the viewer to stay in touch with our emotions, mind our mental health and weather the storm.
THE SPACE BETWEEN US
36 x 24” oil on canvas
This painting was inspired by the ‘keep 2 meters apart’ guideline and references the cultivation of energy through meditation and movement. The two people in the painting are sending energy from their hearts to each other, to create a continual and lasting bond. It’s about connecting with each other, with the energy around us and with the universe. The human hearts are sending vibrations between them as they practice their Yoga and Qi Gong movements, whilst also connecting to their internal and external environment. It’s about the need for maintaining close contact with loved ones, finding balance and recognising that we are one with the universe.
36 x 24” oil on canvas
Nothing here is real-it is a meditation. The sky is falling into the landscape, which is a surreal, calm contemplation of movement, pattern and texture. The background trees drop and melt away and the trees in the foreground have no solid structure or base. The meditating woman is disappearing into her dream world and, with the help of the ‘messenger’ Robin, has tapped into the energy around her and bought back the spirit of a dear departed friend; their connection is real as there is no goodbye, only farewell.
This is a painting for anyone who has loved and lost; particularly anyone who was unable to say their final goodbye due to restrictions on travel and movement-wherever you are/were in the world, your message was heard, the Robin carried it.
36 x 24” oil on canvas
To be exempt means to be free. Free from participating in certain situations and events. Free from obligation and mandates previously unheard of. Free from liability. Free from restrictions and, most of all, free from fear. In this painting, the rat in the foreground has left the ‘rat race’, he is not controlled and doesn't live by their rules. He is exempt; he is free.
The green background and leaves represent a call to return to nature, to balance our decisions with love and nurture a simpler way of life. The rows of rats stand out as a harsh comparison, the toxic yellow colour is used to signify hazardous substances and is often a warning when it occurs in nature. The red lines and arrows keep the rats in line, they are socially distanced and only allowed to travel in one direction – but where are they going? What is their fate?
The lush greens, use of circles, layers and texturing all add to the overall natural feeling and embody the theme of freedom. ‘Free from’ has become synonymous with a healthier way of life – there are ‘free from’ sections in the supermarket and products proudly advertise being ‘free from’ all kinds of nasty additives. This painting asks the viewer why being ‘free from’ experimental jabs, laboratory-made medicines and the wearing of face-coverings is believed unnatural and also questions our attitude towards the exempt.
The free rat is partly transparent, showing the natural, organic goodness inside. His expression is uncertain; how do you think he is feeling? Happy to declare himself exempt when others are not? Confused by the others’ choice to stay in the rat race? Fearful of the future? Or frozen in the present time, at one with nature and relieved to be free? You decide.