If you've ever wondered how other creatives coped during the pandemic, a new film by Joe Pomeroy documents the challenges of lockdown for artists in two UK cities. Here, he talks us through the project.
When the world locked down in 2020, most of us had a similar thought: "Oh well... at least this will give me a chance to develop my art/finish that project/learn that new skill". But in reality, the profound impact of closing down society and banning physical contact with all but a handful of people meant that, for most of us, things weren't quite as simple as that.
Now a new film by award-winning filmmaker Joe Pomeroy explores just what was going through artists' minds at the time and how they responded to this unprecedented societal shift.
A Portrait of Lockdown looks at the impact this situation had on four artists based in London and Leeds and the work they produced during this time. You can watch the full film below:
We start by meeting Birungi Kawooya, an artist from southeast London. She explains how she felt unmotivated to create her artwork during lockdown and that it wasn't until the Black Lives Matter movement gained national and international recognition in the summer of 2020 that she was inspired to begin again.
In her section of the film, Birungi explains the importance of taking time out to rest and rejuvenate, to be able to be creative again, and confront systemic racism and white supremacy.
Next, Craig Keenan, an artist from east London, explains how having the coronavirus virus impacted his life during lockdown, and directly influenced the artwork he created.
During Craig's illness, he was inspired to produce a work of art – a very striking impression of a ghost – from one of the white facial tissues in the box he was using. This reflected in a graphically whimsical way the period he was living through.
Thirdly, Julia Pomeroy, an artist based in Leeds, discusses how the lockdown impacted an integral part of her final degree year and how the work she created has been directly influenced by how people communicated during lockdown via video calls.
Finally, Roberto Grosso, an Italian artist based in London, pays tribute to the incredible work of the NHS during lockdown by creating a piece of artwork called Heroes, inspired by the David Bowie song of the same name.
Produced the film at the height of the Covid 19 pandemic and during the national lockdowns over two years had a direct impact on the visual approach and how the film was produced, explains Joe.
"All my interviews were carried out over extensive video calls, which were then recorded to my laptop," he recalls. "I then asked the artists to film themselves working on mobile phones or with the help of flatmates or partners. I also filmed the empty streets of lockdown on my mobile phone."
As lockdown was eased, though, he could also shoot important visual sequences with the artists. "When it came to post-production, I framed the artists with their work on either side of them to tie in with the theme of Portrait," he says. "The visual approach is quite lo-fi, being shot on mobile phones, but ties back into the overall theme and subject matter of art and lockdown."
A London-based filmmaker, Joe works full-time for BBC Good Food as the in-house videographer producing recipe and presenter-led videos.
In 2019, Joe created, directed, and released his first documentary film, Art is The Cure, which won Best Short Film at the Texas Autism Film Festival. He's currently looking to move into documentary work full-time and is building up a body of work as a documentary director.