What has Lockdown done, one thought and maybe another

So in order to ‘stay safe’ we need to protect ourselves from

  • the air we breathe through nose and mouth,
  • the air that we move through that might have Covid 19 moving through it too, looking for wet  mucous perhaps in our eyes
  • the surfaces we touch on which Covid 19 may have landed and which we may inadvertently transfer to our eyes,nose or mouth

In short sensory organs that impact on communication

  • smell
  • taste
  • touch
  • sight

Only hearing is left and we need to listen carefully, having possibly lost information from those other senses as we put on masks, face shields and gloves. How hard it must be to help the sick and dying, the isolated and lonely, the confused and frightened. But the sense of hearing can be honed. As I listen now to the sounds around me, it changes my breathing and stills my busy mind.

A small space opens up for, using Dylan Thomas’s words, to maybe let another thought to ‘creep or flash or thunder in’

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Covid-19 – A Postcard Conversation

Kirsty, Pip and Alison work together as the Larks and Ravens. Kirsty and Pip are artists and long time collaborators on a variety of social and environmental projects. Alison is a psychologist interested in language and irrational behaviour. We use a combination of our different skills to work with and unravel topics such as value, its odd relationship to money, environmental and social equality issues. During the Covid-19 lockdown we have been working together remotely – making, drawing, writing and discussing.

Burning cow

Burning a scared cow

Like others, we have wondered how our world might be remade from the pain and disordering of Covid-19. We wanted to invite others with different life perspectives to join a conversation about possible different futures through either their words or images.

In May, we are distributing (by any means we can find in our locked down world), postcards inviting responses which can make and remake thinking and action. As we receive these, we will combine reflective drawing, making, words and psychology  to respond and, we hope, continue a wider conversation.

Final invite

Whether or not you have encountered and sent back one of our postcards, we welcome your thoughts and comments here as part of that dialogue.

 

 

 

 

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So where in the order of life does Covid 19 belong?

  • Forms of life get very small, I am unsure but I think that viruses are the smallest. Strands of ribonuclei acid , RNA,wrapped up in a coat to protect themselves when not happily reproducing in some other living organism. So here is a highly magnified image I found on the internet

RNA_Seq_lead copy

What do I know about this Covid 19?

  • As viruses go it is quite large and heavy reducing the distance it can easily travel through air
  • It invades lung cells of humans where it happily reorganises things so it can reproduce itself. I think it kills the cells it invades, taking over the reproductive mechanisms of the cell to make more of itself.
  • It has swept across the world getting into human bodies via their mucous membranes in noses, mouths and eyes .
  • It gets there in a droplet of moisture coughed or sneezed by an infected person, landing on a surface where another host human transfers it to their mouth or nose or eyes where it can move in our mucous off into lung tissue
  • Lots of people get infected and survive after an unpleasant time of fever and coughing
  • Some people die
  • The mathematical models indicate that the rate of spread is fast because every one person can infect three others, those three then infect another three each and so on
  • Reducing physical contact slows the rate of infection, the virus has nowhere to go
  • ‘Lockdown’ has been effective in slowing infections
  • But ‘Lockdown’ is creating more problems both now and almost certainly for the future

 

Things that are changed

Our behaviour towards one another, can we care, can we still find ways to communicate, touch and soothe?

Or are we gradually seeing the fault lines opening both at an individual and social level?

Our attitude to some of the lowest paid workers in our societies, people who keep us clean, help us when we are ill, care for us in old age and often when we are very young, move us around on public transport, grow and deliver our food, keep the lights on and water running, bins emptied and sewers unblocked, bury the dead and deliver the newborn, the list is long, people on it invisible,  until they are not.

Like that tiny virus

So how am I going to live with the fear of dying? As I write that I think it sounds like an oxymoron. I know that being alive means that I have to die.

and the economy

This seems even harder to unpick. If those with wealth have 42% of it from private pensions where did that money originate?

Somehow the conversations around fairness and furloughing, value and money, money and wealth, education, inheritance and upbringing merge into a tangled web.

A little like tracing the spread of that tiny virus.

What steps do I need to take to untangle the knots?

Each one of us may have a different answer

Right now we are denied the chance to physically sing, dance and feast together

Right now some people are working in difficult conditions, with lack of sleep and lack of solace

Right now new connections are being made

Just like that tiny virus

 

 

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Reflecting on the opportunities afforded by lockdown

refecting on the opportunity afforded by lockdown 2020An abbreviated version of a quote from Morgan Friedland, C20th economist used to illustrate that now might be the moment to take up the idea of  a universal basic income for all.

A potentially less costly system than our current benefits schemes.

The corona virus, Covid 19, was looking for connections is this one?

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Bird connections, disconnections & reflections

 

bIRDS FLYING

During the Covid-19 lockdown, we 3 Larks & Ravens have created space 2 days a week to work together/apart in exploring and responding to Covid-19 life in all its pain, weirdness and disruptive possibilities.

We are staying focussed on our core interests of value, money and how to upend and rework capitalism away from economic growth fuelled by material consumption and towards better redistribution of wealth to support the common good.

We are trusting in art as “resistance to the logic of making sense” and in drawing and making as a way to gain insight.

We hope our work may trigger different thinking and conversations across a wider audience.

We started by exploring ways to make connection with the outside world from our individual locked down isolated states – high chairs, prancing lambs, sunflower seeds, high rise flats and floating messages on a canal.

Then, rather than concentrating on what we were cut off from, our interest shifted to how we could use this beached and cut-off state to explore the opportunities for change – in valuing, money and capitalist policies – which Covid-19 might enable….

How could we ask people what they would like to see change post Covid-19?

What would their language tell us?

What sacred cows  are getting burned?

What might the new forms of value exchange happening between neighbours and friends point to?

How would the recognition of who our key workers actually are change how society pays them?

How might Priti Patel’s point based immigration system change?

Might Universal Basic Income actually happen? What would it change?

What can we, as artists, do to help trigger wider conversations?

So marks already made are today revealed through more marks laid over those made some weeks ago. A new layer of thinking

 

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Discovered through translation…

For a while, as a cognitive psychologist, I’ve been working with my 2 artist colleagues to explore questions and trigger new thinking and conversations. They have introduced me to a different, arguably more visceral, language of drawing and making as a way of exploring and understanding the world. Outside the safety net of words, it often feels alien for me, uncomfortable and even crazy but insights emerge which I know I wouldn’t have encountered through my normal, more analytical, roots.

In the Autumn we had the privilege of meeting two South Koreans from the Science Walden Insititute at the Hothouse residency at Dartington Hall. We were fascinated by their Faecal Standard Money project capturing people’s faeces in their specially designed toilet and converting it into biofuel which is worth money and the people can be paid in kind for their natural excreted “waste”. What a wonderful challenge to our capitalistic models of value.

We, the Larks & Ravens would like to continue those conversations. Today, I tried to express that by asking Google to translate our wish into South Korean. I then attempted to draw by hand the (to me) alien script character by character. It was hard. It required intense concentration. Was I copying the shapes, the length of each line, the spacing accurately enough? Was I conveying the right meaning or had I just changed it inadvertently? Was I missing some subtlety of expression? Had I said something offensive or wrong or just difficult to understand? How distorted would my message be when it reached a native speaker? I don’t know.

And then I puzzled why we think we understand each other when we listen or read each other in English. We say it’s our shared or “native” language but to what extent is the meaning intended really shared? I certainly never attend as carefully and anxiously as I did with these unfamiliar characters? I usually think “that’s OK, I caught ‘the drift’ … but did I?

What can we, the Larks and Ravens, learn from sharing questions about value, money and Capitalism with those who speak to us in other tongues? What does it teach us about drawing as a language to be shared and understood by others?

(Original Translation: A desire to work with others who share similar questions but explore in different languages – drawing, words, music, making, doing..)

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Making connections

The Larks & ravens are exploring (remotely) ways to connect with the outside world from our different isolated locations.

I walked along the canal path that runs through my village and left a floating message of hope and sunshine for any other passer-by.

IDaff&Hope2

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Responding to seeing “Parasite”

After seeing the Oscar winning South Korean film, Parasite, we spent the next day responding through drawing and talking.

The size of paper affords different & interacting expression

Below the line

Parallel lives?

“Crossing the line”

Reaching the line

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Material reconfiguration

How do you unthink/rethink cultural structures which shape what we do and who has the power?

The day started with 3 artists, a large floor and a very large sheet of black card.

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“Earning” a Living….

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A Non Capitalist Exploration at Dartington

A god of capitalism in the Board Room

We-the-consumers supporting the god …

.. but what if we were differently connected?..

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Those leaves again

So when down at Dartington Hall spending time ‘Hothousing’ what non-capitalism might look like, I was interested in working on the Tiltyard, a pristine area of grass visible from most of the surrounding paths.

A place of exposure, any activity would be seen

A place where leaves would easily be caught by the wind and blown around

A place where I might make a leaf drawing to an enlarged scale of the Lane Room conference table

Dartinton Hall and Tiltyard

I asked the gardeners’ permission and began to gather leaves where I first entered the space at one edge, slightly stealthily because I felt self conscious. Then as I continued to gather the leaves they became the focus of my attention. Why did I chose one rather than another? Why did I not pick up the dowdy leaves buried more deeply in the grass? Was it size, or colour or ease for me? If I was making a conference table surely the democratic thing was to include all the leaves? Then I was asked by child what was I doing, my reply was that I was using the leaves to make a drawing to try to understand the muddled thoughts in my head. The muddle came from a day of subverting the formality of the Lane Room in an attempt to make a piece of work in the space I found myself in which represented non-capitalism.

Leaf drawing on Tilt yard 2019

Today I have been gathering leaves to compose them in my own garden and I suddenly became aware of  the different e way I viewed and handled the leaves. Today’s leaves are actual capital, for me, saved energy that will, in time, turn into rich compost to feed the plants in my garden, some of which will, in turn will feed me. Yet I gathered today’s leaves greedily, in armfuls with the excited thought of compost to come not considering what else they might offer. It was a different way of relating to the time I was on the Tiltyard. Then the leaves directed and informed my thinking, guiding new work.

The value of dead leaves.

 

 

 

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When ‘tasting the change’ what can be learned from autumn leaves

Spring and Fall

to a young child

 

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
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A non-capitalist avatar

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Unasked Possibility Event Bristol

Date and Time

Tue, 19 November 2019

11:00 – 12:00 GMT

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Location

Centrespace

6 Leonard Lane

Bristol

BS1 1EA

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