Lockdown in Scotland came soon after the annual Iona Driftwood Binding Retreat. I haven’t left the island since (except for small boat jaunts to uninhabited rocks.) Here’s a diary of my creative quarantine.
As for everyone, days were full of anxious uncertainty – about the future, our health and loved ones.
The fear was paralysing. I bound a book and hand-lettered wobbly words.
Painting pages in sea-ink washes seemed the only thing manageable.
Realisation came suddenly: Teaching is what I do, and if I need a reminder or a prompt or some stimulus right now, then maybe others do too.
The Iona Primary School pupils, studying at home, received three bookbinding projects: A journal, a concertina (shown above) and a fold up pocket book. Designed for all ages to make, with a minimum of materials.
Drawing inky pages of letters with a driftwood pen was restful and meditative – create your own alphabet sketchbook and let your mind slow to the dip and stroke.
Loose writing, pondering. Waiting for the ink to dry.
Each day is punctuated by a walk on the beach. I got into the habit of filming short clips of ‘vitamin sea’ and posting them on Instagram.
Another habit: Choosing a pebble to hold in the hand. Taking it for a walk. Barbara Hepworth recommended the same, saying “The weight and form and texture felt in our hands relates us to the past and gives us a sense of a universal force. The beautifully shaped stone, washed up by the sea, is a symbol of continuity, a silent image of our desire for survival, peace and security.”
Getting to know my camera has been the most valuable lockdown learning. Mentoring by Sarah Mason Photography seems like a lifeline to the future.
The byre studio, door ajar. Shared with swallows, mice, bits of boat and a log store. Not entirely watertight, but very atmospheric, especially in evening light.
Being able to swim has helped keep my (mental) head above water. I shared a body story with Deakin & Blue, purveyors of splendid cozzies.
What a delight to know how many people have been exploring bookart, inspired by Bound: 15 Beautiful Bookbinding Projects.
An amazing bunch of PaperLovers from around the world connected on the five week e-course – it’s such a pleasure to be able to teach online, at least.
Selecting particular shells and pebbles, then ‘exhibiting’ them in origami boxes has been oddly reassuring – it’s satisfying watching the collection slowly grow.
Although the consequences of Covid – 19 have yet to unfold, the last few months of (enforced) re-calibration show me what is possible, how little/how much we need, and where the silver linings can be found.