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15th July, 2020

Lockdown Arts



Elaine McNeill, Student Development Coordinator Liverpool School of Art and Design

The COVID-19 pandemic has left us all adjusting to a very different way of life.  Several of us are home schooling for the first time and many are working from home as we all try to stay safe in our houses and ‘bubbles’.  The outbreak has left many of us feeling unsettled. Understandably people feel anxious with the uncertainty and challenging situations faced during this global health crisis. 

Despite lockdown’s gloomy appearance, it has brought some positive changes, an increase in air quality all around the world for example. More time to spend doing what we love with the people we love.  Galleries, museums and theatres have opened their doors virtually, offering us the chance to see shows and artworks we may never have seen.  The arts sector has devised a host of imaginative ways to help reduce social isolation and support the mental health and wellbeing of communities. Our ability to move through this experience, can bring about an opportunity to learn and grow.

Prior to lockdown, I was building labyrinths in prisons with male prisoners to explore their attitudes towards wellbeing as part of my PhD research.  As businesses closed, so too did the prisons and I certainly did not want to be responsible for bringing coronavirus into a prison. As we all shifted to a virtual world, I revised my research project.  I produced online labyrinth resources enabling everyone to build their own labyrinth whilst following social distancing guidelines.

The labyrinth is an ancient archetype that has re-emerged in recent decades and is often used in arts, educational as well as, health and well-being settings.  A labyrinth is a pattern with one path that twists and turns leading into the centre and the same path leads out again. Labyrinths are often associated with mazes but whereas a maze is designed to be a confusing puzzle with many branches, choices and dead ends, a labyrinth is designed to be a calm mindful winding journey in which it’s impossible to get ‘lost’.

Making a labyrinth is a creative and playful activity. Walking or even dancing a labyrinth path, offers an opportunity for fresh insights, deep reflection. Many suggest that walking a labyrinth can lead to a stronger sense of community, a feeling of inner reflection and a sense of living in the present, bringing greater creativity, and stress reduction. Some labyrinths are temporary structures. They reflect the temporary nature, or ephemerality, of the human condition. They remind us that moments are transient, and by being calm and patient, life usually finds a way of making things work in the end. In other words, this too shall pass.

The ‘Build your own Lockdown Labyrinth Toolkit’ can be accessed using this link: https://tinyurl.com/y97qfgnx

The aim of the study is to explore how arts activities can be useful during epidemics and in particular how we can process, reflect and capture experiences of lockdown by engaging with arts and/or labyrinth activities. Anyone interested in taking part who would like to find out more about the study, can access all the resources and information using this link: https://ljmu.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/lockdownartsinfo or contact me on e.mcneill@ljmu.ac.uk  if you have any questions.

Artworks will feature in a public exhibition as part of the Being Human festival in November 2020.  Artists and creative practitioners can submit artwork using this link: https://ljmu.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/lockdownartssubmission 

 


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