UK artists create truly socially distanced piece of artwork
At a time when everyone is feeling more disconnected and isolated than ever due to COVID-19, we wanted to create something to unite the country and connect communities together.
So here at Ken Bromley Art Supplies, we’ve been working on a truly socially distanced, UK-wide community art project that has brought together 12 artists from up and down the country (one artist from each region of the UK) to create one collaborative piece of artwork.
The project was done in conjunction with the annual ‘Inktober’ event and is based on the theme of ‘connection’. Our aim was to enable artists from different areas of the UK to connect through the medium of art, showcasing their own individual styles whilst collaborating to create one beautiful piece of art as a community.
The finished piece is being auctioned to raise money for the Co-op Foundation, who help fund community projects across the UK.
Why is ‘connection’ so important?
There is a breadth of research showing that, as human beings, we have an innate need for connection and social interaction with other people. Not only this, but without these connections, our physical and psychological well-being significantly suffers.
In his book ‘Permission to Feel’, Marc Brackett states that “people with robust social networks enjoy better mental and physical health and even live longer, while unfavourable outcomes are associated with a lack of connections to other people”.
How was the artwork created?
We posted a blank piece of A2 paper around the UK, from artist to artist, region to region, with each individual artist having only a matter of days to add their contribution to the page before it was posted onto the next artist.
The artists were only allowed to use black pen and ink and were asked to connect their contributions to one another’s, in whatever way they felt they could.
The artists involved
The collaborative piece of artwork features an artist from each of the 12 regions of the UK. Here’s what the artists involved had to say about taking part.
1. Danielle Morgan – Northern Ireland
My theme was my connection to nature. And the beautiful wildflowers I experienced during lockdown.
I created a series of ‘daily draws’ inspired by nature on my Instagram page which changed the direction of my work.
2. Esther Donaldson – Scotland
I always work on my own so working with others, even though I didn’t meet any of them in person, was a lovely change.
My contribution is based on gardens, parks and country estates, the natural plant world. Everything in nature is connected. You alter one part of nature and other parts will be affected. I chose to paint a tree. Trees are connected to each other by their roots and communicate messages to each other to signal drought or disease. They are a strong symbol of connection.
3. Lucy Farfort – North East
As a children’s illustrator I wanted to create something with a group of children that reflected the diversecommunity I live in. When I received the piece with the two contributions already and saw the flowers, I immediately thought about kids connecting with nature and the Earth, a sentiment that’s close to my heart.
When the artwork arrived, I realised how different each artist’s style and way of working was, so this definitely added to the challenge, in that how could I make my work fit.
4. Adam Riches – East of England
The drawing I made was of two faces intertwined but facing away from each other. They are a representation of a type of connection that two people can have with each other.
I felt quite a bit of pressure knowing that I had one chance at making something that I was happy with, knowing that there are already other artist’s work on the paper.
5. Geo Law – London
I was excited at the idea of contributing to an artwork that’s patchworked by artists around the country, there was something nice to it, almost like a connection between the artists even though we probably haven’t met in person before.
My contribution was inspired by what I could see, a variation of characters, nature, fauna etc I wanted to have fun and add my own characters into the mix
I always feel with a collaboration it’s a process of being objective and a little bit subjective to how you feel about your approach so I felt there weren’t too many challenges other than not wanting to spill tea over the piece or smudge it!
6. Ian Jones – East Midlands
I chose to draw a group or crowd of characters (Ironic in these times of isolation and reduced gatherings), I felt that they connected well to the piece next to mine which was also of a group.
I wanted it to feel like the other group were unaware of their presence. A kind of subliminal connection. Maybe like they were mysterious guardians or something. Like they were watching over, in a non-threatening way.
7. Laura Tinald – West Midlands
During lockdown I got a lovely dog from Romania, who was in a kill shelter. I’m very passionate about adopting dogs and think the connection you can share with your four-legged friend is very special. Dogs have a presence I find very comforting and I think this is a sentiment many people will share since lockdown.
My favourite part was entwining my piece with the others and examining how everyone else did it.
8. Nic Squirrell – South East
My inspiration was from going for a walk in the Kent countryside. Nature and birdsong is something which connects us all, and I think many people have even more appreciation for the natural world as our lives have all changed in the last few months.
Collaborating with other artists is fun. Everyone has a very different approach, and limiting it to just black ink really accentuated that.
It was a little daunting, I was very aware of not smudging anyone else’s work (although I did manage to smudge my own a bit) and there was no room for mistakes.
9. Jane Foster – South West
I love drawing flowers and thought the idea of adding a happy bee was a fun idea as bees help to pollinate the landscape which can grow amongst our environment.
It was lovely seeing the other styles of work – I wanted to integrate but at the same time, make sure my work was very different too.
10. Katherine Jones – Wales
My work is very much inspired by my background as an architect. I feel that local places have become so important during lockdown, and our connection to our local community has become much stronger and so very important. People are rediscovering that they are intrinsically connected to their communities like never before.
I’m looking forward to connecting with the other artists once the piece is completed. I think the challenges were knowing whether or not I should try to connect to the other drawings, so I did a little bit where I could. However, I do really like that it is a mixture of different styles, but all tied together with the black and white / pen and ink / connection theme.
11. John Harrison – Yorkshire and the Humber
My drawing of several flights of steps in the Italian gardens at Scarborough is an image which I felt connected in a few ways: with us in 2020 to the many, many feet which have used them over that past 100 years or more, connected the beach ( at the foot) with the town above, and connected the piece at the right with the houses immediately above my drawing.
It was hugely enjoyable and a real challenge to think of something in my style of drawing which might fit: seeing everyone’s contributions was a real treat (only possible as I was next to last).
12. David Callear – North West
My subject matter is buildings and street scenes, very urban, so my first thought when learning of the theme of connection was a bridge. This is a very literal interpretation of connecting two sides through a built form.
I was very intrigued to be working with other artists. The challenge is of course the fact that we were all working in isolation and so we couldn’t have a discussion around the table and we couldn’t bounce ideas off each other. Being the last artist to contribute, the enjoyment was being able to see everyone else’s interpretation, and was also able to see the final piece once I’d finished my own contribution.
The finished piece is being auctioned to raise money for the Co-op Foundation, who help fund community projects across the UK. We will also include a £50 voucher with the winning bid to get the artwork framed.