Campbell River Arts Council executive director Ken Blackburn is pictured outside the Walter Morgan Shed in this file photo. Blackburn is also a talented artist and is starting off our series highlighting work that local creatives have been doing during the pandemic. Mike Davies – Campbell River Mirror File Photo

COVID and a time of isolation: an artist’s personal observation

Campbell River artist Ken Blackburn shares his thoughts on finding inspiration in tough times

Campbell River Arts Council Executive Director Ken Blackburn shares his thoughts on artists and the work they have been producing these last few months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Ken Blackburn

Isolation is no stranger to working artists. The global COVID-19 pandemic provided for many artists an unusual amount of time for studio practice.

As we emerge slowly and cautiously, it might be interesting to take a look at what artists were creating during the past few isolating months. It is also an opportune time for downtown businesses to begin creating a positive summer atmosphere within our community. The Downtown BIA has begun decorating business windows – the Patrons of the Arts (POTA) have a fabulous display for their Wearable Art Initiative and have begun a project for creative hats. The Arts Council has also created a display featuring the 2020 Banner Project.

RELATED: Two Campbell River artists take residency at Walter Morgan Studio

I would suggest that downtown windows might offer local artists an opportunity to show what has been created in the past months. Of interest is to survey what effects a global pandemic and isolation have had on the visual arts (alongside music, theatre, dance). Isolation brought many more people actively engaging online. News cycles became obsessive, with our US neighbours continually playing out a dangerous and tragic farce. Political tension is on the rise. Extreme polarities and divisions are widening. Families have had routines disrupted and have been distanced from extended family. Stress plays out across the age spectrum from teens to seniors.

Yet as was witnessed with the Banner Project, positive images of love, of hearts, of thankfulness to workers, of play and colour, all emerged from what could have been depicted as a dark time. But not so.

RELATED: Mirror journalist contributes banner to community art initiative

I have personally taken the initiative to work with Impressions Arts Supplies on Shoppers Row and have placed recent paintings in their window. They will be on display until early August.

In my own case, I returned again to landscapes, finding within them an energizing disinterest in my own vulnerabilities. I rediscovered the sky. The sky is the source of all great mythologies. It is the birthplace of story and a spark for the imagination. The earth, sea and sky are about change, but it is through the sky that emerges my memento mori. It is what grounds me to my mortality and the temporal nature of everything.

The artist James McNeill Whistler said that “Nature is usually wrong.” To study the sky, as also with the land and the sea, is to note the perfection of errors. As a testimonial to uncertainty, the land “scape”, while revealing much within its framing, provides reassurance if only through its ambivalence toward the viewer.

I have been watching these past few months. Not comforted, but inspired.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ArtCampbell River

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A landscape local artist Ken Blackburn painted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image courtesy of Ken Blackburn

Just Posted

30 years later, Sue Medley’s hit ‘Dangerous Times’ more relevant than ever

Vancouver Island singer/songwriter reflects on her ’90s national hit

Psychological thriller filmed on northern Vancouver Island debuts on AppleTV

‘Woodland’ is set in Haida Gwaii, but was filmed around Port McNeill

Symphony Splash goes virtual, revisits 2018 performance

Organizers postpone live event until Aug. 1, 2021

Sooke Fine Art Show takes local art to a world stage

People can visit online from July 24 to Aug. 3, and can purchase any art until end of September

Nanaimo fantasy writer co-authoring Old Norse phrase book

Joshua Gillingham partnering with author and professor on ‘Old Norse for Modern Times’

Cowichan’s 39 Days of July deemed a success, despite COVID-19

Musical productions live streamed from the Duncan Showroom this year

Gabriola’s Isle of the Arts Festival goes ‘mini’ on 10th anniversary

Gabriola Arts Council presents scaled-down, workshop-only IOTA Mini festival

Sooke Fine Arts Show reaches new audiences with virtual showcase

Voting for People’s Choice Award open until Aug. 3

Mural artists announced for Nanaimo’s inaugural Hub City Walls festival

Local artists Kara Dee Harrison, Russell Morland and Austin Weflen to paint downtown walls

Nanaimo musician Glen Foster releases new music video

‘Brains Brawn and Beauty’ is the latest single from Foster’s album ‘Not Far Away’

Nanaimo artist showing holographic, glow-in-the-dark paintings in Parksville

Pattiann Withapea presents ‘Designs From My Abstract Mind’ at McMillan Arts Centre

New Victoria art show displays 600 collaboratively made postcards from the pandemic

An artist would start a card and then mail it to another who would add to or complete the design

Most Read