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Culture Box Commission

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In 2022 I was awarded a commission by Culture Box to make an interactive artwork related to the Covid Pandemic.


The University of Essex provided qualitative and quantitative data about social isolation, responsive behaviours & activity preferences during Covid, from forty care homes across the UK.  The objective was to use the data to help create an artwork that could be then enjoyed in these care homes. 


I converted the data into line graphs and used the resulting ‘peaks and troughs’ to form an imaginary mountainous  landscape drawing. Into this I integrated the shapes of some of the mountains that I have been lucky enough to climb. The resulting 3 meter drawing was then hand-copied into 30 concertina sketchbooks. These were then distributed back to the care homes for the residents to imaginatively 'colour in' using watercolours. 


I have hiked, scrambled and climbed since I was a child and am passionate about mountains. Mountains encourage us to explore and challenge ourselves. They also symbolise nature and beauty, and are places to revive and reflect. The books aimed to recognise the journey that the care home residents had made together while serving as a metaphor for the ‘ups and downs’ of their mental and physical health. One doesn’t need to have climbed a mountain to appreciate the journey reflected in this project.


Residents and carers were invited to use watercolours to imaginatively paint over the line drawings – giving them life, colour and vitality. Each were given a couple of pages and the book was then passed-on to the next resident. My suggestion was that they were used without objectives, demands or judgements, as a place to freely express whatever came to mind and hand. Whether recognised or not, the ‘happenings’ of colour and mark-making would result in a collective documentation; something lasting and permanent from their shared experience of instability and loss. I hoped that the books would bring discovery and joy - something colourful from this extremely dark passage of time. 


“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way!” Dr. Seuss

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