2020 Lockdown Limbo

Posted by Avril Jones on

What an extraordinary world we’re living in this year.  It’s a year that won’t be forgotten and will go down in history for many reasons, some very bad but, I hope, also many good that will bring about improvements to a great many lives and to the world we all live in.

The one affecting us all in a practical sense is, of course, COVID-19 and the essential associated lockdown.  I hope all those reading this are safe and well and remain so.  We are all affected in different ways by the lockdown and, for some, I know it’s a very difficult time.  It’s especially hard for artists and makers who normally rely on art and/or craft fairs, galleries and shops to sell their creations and make a living.  Please try to support them - and all your small, local businesses.  They don’t have the margin to survive the extended closures, unlike the big chains who will be fine after lockdown.  If you haven’t heard of the Just a Card movement, please click through to find out more.  https://www.justacard.org/

My household - partner, daughter and granddaughter - would normally be out at work or school but we’re all at home, along with the dog who can’t believe her luck with all the extra walks and cuddles.  We’re very fortunate to have enough space that each of us can work in a separate room so we’re not too distracted by clattering keyboards and phone/video calls.  Personally, I’ve mostly been quite relaxed about lockdown as I work from home anyway, except when I go out photographing gardens and landscapes.  I did have a bit of a meltdown at the beginning of this week when it hit me that I can’t remember the last time I had even a minute completely alone.  So I took the dog for her evening walk and declined other company.  Three miles of peaceful, contemplative head space was quite restorative. 

Yet this has made me realise that I lead a bit of a lonely life.  Is this common for artists and makers?  I have chaotic video calls every few days with my younger daughter and her two year old son.  He asks for me but, of course, his attention once I’m on screen is short and flighty - but has grown from shouting “Nanna!” and running away to play, to showing me a succession of his new favourite toy cars.  I rarely join business-related zoom chats (there’s a weekly one that’s great but I often don’t notice the time and miss it - duh!) and almost never have phone conversations with friends.  Which is weird because I used to do that a lot.  I blame the internet!  Phoning people feels intrusive now but email and social media don’t provide that same feeling of personal connection.  I really look forward to being able to meet people for coffee or lunch again.

As a photographer of gardens, flowers, landscapes and still life, I am currently somewhat thwarted by lockdown.  Just before it happened, we had our out-of-control back garden stripped bare to start over.  Then the garden centres closed along with everything else.  So now we have a large vegetable plot but no flowers out there.  I have desperately missed garden visits.  I have one slot booked at RHS Wisley next week and cannot wait to see the cottage garden, amongst many other areas. 

I’ve been avoiding unnecessary travel, so not seeking out publicly accessible landscape views.  We should have been holidaying in Cornwall in late July but had to cancel so I'm missing the sea, too.  And lockdown hit us mid-declutter so we have ‘stuff’ all over the house, waiting to go to charity shops or the tip, leaving me lacking space for still life work.  Instead, I’ve done a lot of trawling of my photo library and, I’m glad to say, that has turned up some very happy memories, such as my April 2017 birthday spent among the tulips and blossom at Monet’s fabulous gardens and house at Giverny, which I featured in a series of Instagram postings where prints will soon be available to buy.  www.instagram.com/AvrilJonesPhoto

I really must turn to still life, however.  I have saved so many dead flowers, all still waiting for their chance to be immortalised.  And there are stunning peonies in our front garden, which I must photograph before the rain gets to them.

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  • Thanks, Clare. It will be very strange when the others return to work and school, after the house being fully occupied for so long now. This morning I had a small family ‘bubble’ meeting with my non-resident daughter and her two-year-old son at a lovely garden and woodland not far away. It was very hot, though, even at 10am, so by 11am we had to – and I mean simply had to – cool off with a delicious ice cream from the cafe!

    Avril Jones on
  • Great blog, Avril! It’s so interesting to see what different people have missed during lockdown. And to hear of the different difficulties it has brought…… I too live “a lonely life”, so I have been driven to a couple of meltdown moments as well (& that’s with just one other person in the house!) – but I shall actually miss him a lot when he goes back to work next week…….

    Clare Smythson on

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