Keeping creative in a crisis

How do artists remain inspired after months of solitude?



Many of us ditched our amateur art projects early on in lockdown but keeping creative as a professional artist is a different reality. With galleries closed, studios inaccessible and commissions cancelled, creatives must now adapt their skillset to create work and remain inspired when the world is in isolation. To better understand how art is born out of solitude, I spoke to London-based artists, photographers and directors about their creative experiences in lockdown.

Video created, voiced and edited by Anaka Nair

Video created, voiced and edited by Anaka Nair


Ella Devi Dabysing 

Abstract practitioner from South London, Ella Devi Dabysing has created over 20 portraits in her ‘Isolation Selfie Series’. Through conversations with friends and family over the phone and social media, she created sound spaces that were far away from lockdown restraints. 

PICTURED: Isolation Selfie Series (Source: Ella Devi Dabysing)

Dictynna Hood 

London-based film director, Dictynna Hood was halfway through a writers retreat when lockdown started. She is currently redrafting her stage musical, ‘Dr Faustess’ and working on storyboards for her fantasy rom-com project ‘Over and Under’. Dictynna is unsure about health and safety in the film industry, and how actors and film crews will be able to maintain social distancing on set in the future. Nevertheless, the company director of Likely Story has kept creative by photographing her #CovidDuskWalks on Instagram.

PICTURED: Dr Faustess performed at The Cockpit Theatre, London (Source: Dictynna Hood)

Graeme Purdy 

International wildlife photographer Graeme Purdy had to cancel a trip to Siberia in April, where he hoped to photograph Amur Leopards. Instead, he embraced the opportunity to spend more time at his Putney home. As a specialist in close-encounter photography of the world’s most dangerous animals, he applied this approach to London's local wildlife and took 5000 images of foxes over a period of 40 days. The final piece called ‘Mr Fox Comes To Tea’ was photographed in his back garden.

PICTURED: Behind the Scenes - EIGHT FEET (Source: Graeme Purdy Photography)

Amanda Rodriguez 

Lockdown started only two weeks before Amanda Rodriguez was due to open her new tattoo shop, Three Kings Tattoo in Deptford, south-east London. Travel restrictions also prevented Amanda travelling between New York and London for work, and she has since filled her time with photography, drawing botanic artwork and creating a colouring book for adults and kids. 

PICTURED: NYC-born Three Kings Tattoo opens in Deptford (Source: Three Kings Tattoo - London)

Maya Campbell 

Brixton-based film photographer and second-year student, Maya Campbell was worried about the new costs of developing photos when her university closed during lockdown. Maya's usual method of experimental photography was now a process of vigorously pre-planning every roll of film. She adapted and created ‘Adding a Face’, a short poetry film inspired by her Nepali and Jamaican mixed heritage. 

PICTURED: Adding a Face (Source: Maya Campbell)

Susan Aldworth

After three of her exhibitions were cancelled, Susan Aldworth became preoccupied and found her creativity damped down by the news. Feeling incensed and increasingly political during the Black Lives Matter protests, the rising pandemic death toll and the treatment of NHS staff, Susan recently started a commissioned internet project called 'Value', to start a wider conversation about how society values people. 

PICTURED: Illuminating the Self exhibition in Hatton Gallery, Newcastle (Source: Twitter @CandoNcl)