The thing I learned during covid (which really helped me through and gave me lots more confidence) was a love for cycling!! This is the route I would cycle from my house to a local beach for socially distanced hangouts with a friend. We'd have lots of long chats about life and everything else at the beach that always felt like real learnings and unlearnings too :)
"Using making as a method of preservation in itself, and looking to older ways of thinking and doing, I’m leaning not towards this ‘new normal’ we hear about, so much as a reimagining of ‘older abnormals’: times when those who came before us might feel a need for connection and protection beyond the immediately tangible, whilst dodging dissociation in making as a method of my staying in the present."
In the early weeks of the Covid lockdown, I read an article by one of my country women - Arundathi Roy - a brilliant writer and activist. Arundathi Roy spoke of the pandemic as a portal and of her hope that we might walk through this tunnel, unlearning and having the courage to pick up new tools, new ways in which we might connect with each other, and make a truly fair and just world for both humans and non-humans.
Our students and ourselves have had to learn to practice and create work during a pandemic and in social isolation. And in that process, our students have learnt about tools they never had within themselves that have had to find and rely on through necessity. The result is glorious testament to creativity. When we make, when we create, it says that we believe in a future. We believe in a world out there where our work is read or seen or shared by others, where our work connects with other human beings, where we are able to make a difference.
Roy describes Covid-19 as a virus that works like an x-ray, exposing the world in all of its biases and injustices. With George Floyd's murder and Black Lives Matter movements, we are beginning to see more clearly and explicitly how unequal and unjust our society is. We are starting to realise that we must all listen with, reflect on and act together; that this is integral to how we live or choose to live on a daily basis. This is our needed un/learning.
What have I learnt? I have learnt that we cannot separate life from practice. That life is practice. And that nothing can stop creativity. Not even a pandemic.
Pre lockdown I was already loosely working with the clay soil around my parents home where I grew up. Returning back here for lockdown has given me the time to finally complete the process of filtered this clay, sculpting my first ceramics and smoke firing them, using foraged materials from around our home. The lengthy process made me slow down during lockdown and measure my days through the clay filtering process and sculpting. YouTube became by best friend teaching me everything I now know about foraging clay, ceramics and smoke firing. I've learnt so much in this time by unlearning to rush and learning to dig holes and get my hands muddy.
Un/learning sticker #3
Bethnal Green Tenants
Banner by Helena Walsh and Kevin Biderman as part of a collaborative neighbourhood banner project by Bethnal Green Tenants of Nag’s Head Estate, London, 2020. Residents of the Nag’s Head Estate and other locals posted answers to the question ‘who should pay for coronavirus?’ into a makeshift post-box. They invite you to add your ideas to our chatbox!
We look to another world to learn
We learn how to live in a tight space
Now we can escape
A fish can’t
Our glass windows open
Shall we take it to the sea?
The quarantine period brought the social divides in the UK into sharp focus. After this, I don't think many people will be able to shake off how obviously our racist & classist Britain puts lives into hierarchies and decides those at the 'bottom' don't deserve protection. These are the people that keep things running, afloat, keep us all well & safe. How much have we internalised this idea of social hierarchy? It is not too much to ask that everyone had their basic needs met, food, shelter & wellbeing. Everyone is deserving of the good things & to have time to enjoy their life. E V E R Y O N E. Time to demand wealth re-distribution.
I’ve found some comfort in doing long, repetitive tasks during quarantine. Making pasta from scratch was one of them. Dried pasta is cheap and so I'd never tried making it from scratch. Plus, I thought I didn’t have the right tools or the right flour or the right technique. But having time also means having time to mess up.
The first shape I attempted is arguably one of the harder ones but all the more satisfying when you start to get the hang of it. They’re a Sardinian shape called lorighittas or “little rings” and I spent an afternoon rolling them into ropes and twisting them on my fingers. The dough is simple enough, fine durum semolina and water but you can use all-purpose if that’s what you have on hand. The recipe that I followed uses 300 grams of flour to 180 grams of water. If you don’t have a kitchen scale yet and you enjoy baking, get one. Measurements are much more precise and you’ll have fewer dishes to clean up.
Traditionally, you’ll make a well in the centre of the flour and pour water in slowly, starting with the middle and gradually bringing more flour in from the sides. I thought I was experienced enough for that technique and ended up with water all over my counter. I’d suggest a bowl. Knead for a bit to form a tacky dough, form into a ball and rest, covered in a damp towel, for about fifteen minutes. I got distracted and rested it for more. Don’t skip this step though, resting allows the gluten to relax and the dough to hydrate, making it smoother and easier to work with afterwards.
Try to lock me in the house.
To be fair, the expression that I have to quarantine by some reason may be accurate.
But I may think I've initially locked myself up to see this situation a little more actively.
Have nothing to do, so I might grow a bonsai.
Order a stone that resembles a mountain and a plant to be grafted onto the stone
Looking down at the bonsai, this is such an elder’s habit.
I could decide to become an old who has gone through all sorts of hardships.
No, even more, I can become a transcendent being.
Yes. We live in an orderly world.
The most important thing in this world of order is everyday life.
The world collapses as daily life collapses.
No. nothing can destroy this world.
Even if the lives of many people are collateralised, my everyday life can’t be broken.
Whatever happens, the rhetoric — it was an expensive lesson man — would justify me.
Right. We do not learn.
No. Perhaps it’s more correct to say that we are not trying to learn the present.
Oh, it's time for tea.
Should keep calm and have a cuppa then.
Two years ago artist Gertrūda Gilytė began the durational instagram performance @successful_art_project, aiming to achieve online fame in order to realise artistic success by the conventional definition of institutional recognition.
Applying popular techniques from the spirituality industry to her own situation, Gertrūda drew particularly from The Law of Attraction, which uses the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our thoughts and materialize them into reality.
Gertrūda began this project with a relatively sceptical view of the spirituality and mindfulness industries, but a commitment to testing these techniques with openness. Choosing to film herself rather than perform a character, the disjuncture between her speech and facial expressions suggests that the work required to convince herself that her words hold truth is ongoing.
Gertrūda recognises that The Law of Attraction has many problematic aspects, and does not acknowledge the structural conditions which determine its limitations, for example illness or social disadvantage. However @successful_art_project's critical view of this method is complicated by the extent to which the manifestations affected Gertrūda's personal life. In the final months of this project Gertruda’s goals came to life; she achieved gallery representation from @annkakultys gallery.
UN/LEARNING: amongst the good things there are horrid things like coronavirus and my spicy little toe (looks like chilli sauce but it's a fungal infection). Count your blessings and take positive actions e.g going to the pharmacy.
The Laumi hat is an international collective of artists that have taken part in Laumulistasamsteypan, an annual artist summer camp/residency in Hrísey, Iceland. During our stay in Hrísey we always start our day by doing a morning activity which is led by one of the residency artists. This activity can be everything from sharing dreams over coffee, sock wrestling, pancake competition, parkour, drawing exercises or cursing into the Atlantic ocean.
These morning activities are a moment to leave judgment behind and join in on a quest guided by another, learning alternative perspectives and unlearning your ego.
'Love in the Time of Corona' is a series of reflections on queer (non)-monogamy in lockdown.
Click the hand for the final instalment of the series →
To catch up on Part 3 click here.
Once rested, cut off a small portion of dough and leave the rest covered. You want to work with amounts of dough that can be shaped before it dries out. Roll it into a rope, starting with two hands close together, spreading them apart to elongate it. Start rolling one end thinner, wrap it around two fingers, break the dough off from the rest of the rope and pinch the two loops together where they meet. Play around with how thin you roll, I probably could have gone thinner. Then, twist. The technique is strange to describe in words so I recorded it instead.
Lay each noodle on something flat and dusted with semolina or other flour. Continue working in small batches; cutting off parts of dough, rolling them out, twirling them on your fingers, until you’ve finished or are tired of making pasta. They can be left out to dry, frozen, or boiled fresh in very salted water for about two minutes or until they float to the top.
While boredom is obviously not the worst consequence of Covid-19, it is probably one that many people struggle with during lockdowns and quarantines. But is it boredom really all that bad?
Long term boredom is associated with a lot of unpleasant outcomes: depression, anxiety, dangerous behaviour, aggression and many more. Being bored very often or for long periods is therefore a big problem. But using experiments and survey studies to investigate people’s reactions to boredom over the last 10 years, my collaborators and I have discovered that effects of momentary boredom that everybody probably experiences every once in a while is not so clear-cut.
Boredom tends to encourage two kinds of responses. First, boredom causes people to look for temporary and immediate distraction that allows them to avoid the boring situation, such as snacking. Second, boredom causes people to look for more satisfying or meaningful activities, such as helping others or perhaps doing something creative. While the former will help against boredom for a moment, the latter is probably a better long-term remedy.
Exercise and the outdoors
Going for walk and smelling all the nature
Use Stephen Dalley's random walk generator to get out the door
Do the London loop
Just do some exercise
Binge watch a TV show
Count your resting heart beat
Turn on some disco, close the curtains...
and dance around like a wild monkey
Run to some water and splash it over your face
Read a book
Look at the fanciest houses for sale in your area on Zoopla
(or website of choice)
Seeking company and caring for others
Message a friend you’ve fallen out of touch with
Go outside and see how quickly you can get into a conversation with a stranger
CHAT TO A NEIGHBOUR YOU DON’T YET KNOW
Ask someone on a date
Get a puppy
(or just borrow one if you probably shouldn’t get a puppy)
Make a personalized radio show for a friend
Put a swing up in the community
Write messages to friends where you tap the first word that comes up on the suggested word tab, so that you end up with a mad message written by your algorithm
Self- and homecare
Plucking my eyebrows, leg hair and moustache
Cut your own hair
Clean the fridge
Check your moth trap
Decorate a bike
One Word Story (improv game)
Plan a resourceful holiday
Write a novel
People watching - going out and observing what people are doing and writing stories / dialogue about what they’re saying (this is better verbally with a friend)
Write a limerick
Write a (preferably hand-written) letter
Learning poetry in Hindi
Learn the capital city of every country in Europe... AND Africa
I like everyone writing random statements on pieces of paper and you have to pick one, then approach a stranger and weave that weird statement into the conversation e.g. ‘my blue house smells of cheese’