Art is both a tool and a platform, it allows artists, and also those that view and participate with the art, to examine what it means to be human, to be able to voice and express, and to bring people and ideas together. For those that make it, it can be a lifeline, an expression of who they are and who the buyer or recipient of the artwork is too.
The challenges of our so-called ‘new normal’ life in and post-global pandemic, we are seeing more clearly what needs to change in our pre-COVID-19 society. What we are experiencing is proving difficult for individuals and groups on many levels. The systemic racism in positions of power has become a huge focus and has fuelled expression in many forms, from protests in the streets and online, and of course through art. During times of crisis, what we need is the humanity, the expression, and the community that the arts world creates.
We are seeing a growing mental health crisis as a response to COVID-19. The isolation, life changes in terms of job and housing losses, financial worries, physical health concerns, and the tragedies of short and long-term ill health and deaths, that the pandemic has left us with is taking its toll. There is a marked increase in suicides in the UK. The importance of good mental and physical health has never been so stark in my lifetime.
Art as a form of therapy may be of help to some. The time is now to value the arts. Art is not an exclusive domain to those that have studied it, or for the wealthy classes, it is not something that should be viewed in terms of ‘high art’, we no longer live in a world where only the privileged can take part in it. Art can be big or small, it can be pavement chalk art or street community murals, art makes a difference in how we live our lives. There is no age limit, there is no level of education required, there is no right or wrong. If you feel the need to express yourself, through pictures, or words, or dance, or any other arts medium, then do it. No one can tell you that what you are doing is bad or wrong, your art is personal to you, you know why you are doing it, and even if it’s just doodling on a piece of scrap paper, it is valid, and you may even surprise yourself with your efforts.
The arts create a sense of wellness in our lives by helping us process our lives as individuals and it allows us to come together collectively. It can allow us to communicate, it generates positivity, appreciation and hope during. In times of social injustice and unrest, art amplifies important voices and messages. Art matters.
In this age where the arts is easily accessible online, we can engage with it on many levels. Many museums and galleries have moved their exhibitions online, you can view the work of established artists and also less established artists, from the comfort of your own home. Being in lockdown is a great time to feed your mind with connecting to the arts online.
Art is good for our health, while you are enjoying viewing and engaging with different perspectives from your home, revel in the knowledge that you are being healthy! Art is a proven tool for reducing stress and is used for mental well-being. Creating art has long-term benefits too, it boosts our brain function as well as being a positive contributor to our mental and emotional health. It can help us to process our world, trauma, it can be a way to express difficult feelings and to work through experiences. Creating art with others can be a bonding experience, arts and crafts activities need not just be for the kids!
We need the arts in difficult times. It gives us immeasurable personal and social benefits. We rely on the arts to help us through difficult times.
It has been a tough time for many artists this year financially, many of our outlets for selling work have not been available, so if you can, please do support artists when considering buying gifts and seasonal decorations.