Jess Bugler – Nov 2020
Like most of us, Lockdown had a big impact on my life and my creative practice. So much planned just disappeared from the horizon, exhibitions and workshops I had been working towards were cancelled. In particular, I lost the chance to create an installation at Spike Print Studio for the Spike Open Studios event.
I am grateful that living on the edge of Hereford, I still had access to beautiful walks by rivers and through woods. And although it was hard, I managed to both work and home-school throughout lockdown – so kept busy.
Creatively, however I had to change. I was unable to access the large etching presses, the laser cutter or the Risograph machine on which I usually rely and this had an immediate impact on my practice. I had a small A5 press, so what happened was that everything became so much smaller. This strangely suited my mood, as in that first lockdown I didn’t feel very bold and anxiety about the future seemed to spill out.
So I began to create a series of intimate intaglio prints on found paper boxes of all shapes and sizes. These prints I have called “Enclosures”. Each small box is flattened, scored and printed so that the natural crumples and creases of the boxes interweave with unnatural scars inflicted by circumstance. The flattened boxes echo a physical reality, the plans of homes, lockdown limitations. The delicate scored lines circle and cross denoting paths of occupants. Simultaneously the boxes conjure internal worlds, evoking spinning thoughts and states of mind.
I was relieved to be safe and warm but very aware that for others being trapped in one place has brought great danger, hardship and isolation. I wanted these prints to suggest how different our circumstances are and our experiences of lockdown can be.
In the summer, as lockdown relaxed I started to explore the world of online exhibitions and exhibited my new creations with South West Academy, Ty Pawb Open, Seacourt Mini Print International and The Printmakers Council. I was grateful for these opportunities but missed the chance to see art in person immensely.
More hopeful plans were made for physical exhibitions and workshops in the Autumn, but these have been postponed and as we enter “Tier 2” I am back making some more “enclosures” and holding my nerve – hoping for good news in the Spring.