Martine Wainwright

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Martine's Quarantine Practice

"In more than one way, I feel that living with a chronic illness for the last six years has been like a training camp for life in quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic.  After the initial panic subsided, it occurred to me that my situation was already close to my everyday life prior to the pandemic apart from having to isolate and shield myself even more because of my illness. 

My gardens, my allotment, and the expansive wasteland overlooking the main railway line were already my safe haven.  I am fortunate to have outside space where I can sow, nurture and harvest vegetables and plants to create home-made inks and pigments.  These outside spaces during quarantine have become my temporary studio and galleries, allowing me to work while enjoying listening to nature.

I have had to adapt to studying at home even more than previously.  This has been a challenge because I miss using the facilities provided by the university, learning from visiting artists, lecturers, technicians and working collaboratively with other students, in particular, my cohort.  

I had been used to creating large, site-specific work which offered the viewer the opportunity for interaction.  I would position the initial start of a project and then continue with the work within the exhibiting space, letting the physicality of the material dictate the final outcomes.  Instead, I have had to work on a much smaller scale and to rethink methods to display the work so that the viewer’s interaction with the artwork remains unaffected.


On the positive side, my technological skills have had to improve drastically with lockdown; I have had to use it daily to follow my MA Fine Art course, and to share my work, group chat and liaise face-to-face with other students for the final virtual MA Show.  The downside has been internet connection:  I live close to a main railway line and each time that a train goes by, I lose communication in a group chat!

Documenting the processes, throughout creating art, with a professional camera as opposed to using my mobile phone or iPad has meant that I have had to learn to use various lenses and learn about photography so that the images in the MA final show exhibition, in book form, and website appear professional.  All of our work, images, organisation and communication have been made online from our domestic settings through various mobile devices.  We have been all, together, in the same uncontrollable, chaotic state whilst in this period of social isolation.

For me, what has been advantageous is that quarantine has given me an unpredictable freedom of being innovative and to create with an attitude of “What if…?”  Having to make do with what I already had at home as opposed to the university’s facilities.  It has also encouraged me to work without constraint or boundary and I have explored in a way I would not have done under the normal circumstances.  Hence, I have become more daring and bolder in my approach and creativity takes place “in the moment”.  I am not waiting for the right place or the right time to be inspired to create.  This has resulted in a daily schedule of paced creativity, apart from the days that my health condition leaves me incapacitated."

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