Salford artists document the coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 May 2020

Philip Westcott

Philip Westcott

Archant

Artists from Salford are among those to have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic in diverse ways

Gill NicholasGill Nicholas

Galleries across the world have opened their virtual doors during the lockdown, offering online tours, events and activities. For some, viewing art is a solace, a chance to forget the stress of the pandemic and become lost in another place and time. For those creating art in these difficult times, it can be just as therapeutic, an opportunity to shift the focus from the worries about daily life and the health and wellbeing of friends and loved ones.

And it doesn’t have to hang on the walls of a gallery for art to touch our lives; the rainbows children have drawn and stuck in windows across the country are symbols of gratitude and hope.

Artists are responding to the global outbreak in many ways and are creating a body of work which will give future historians a wealth of insights into how society reacted to the pandemic.

Members of Salford Art Club are among those who have taken up paints, oils and pencils during the lockdown. Philip Westcott was on holiday when UK shoppers began panic buying. He said: ‘It wasn’t until we came back to Salford and tried to buy everyday items that reality struck and seeing people desperately searching for toilet rolls struck a chord with me. Seeing this, I reworked one of my old sketches of an old lady and hoped people would appreciate the problems they were having.’

He has also paid tribute in paint to the essential workers who must travel to work, often on crowded trains, and put themselves at risk so that others might survive.

‘I will continue to do figure studies of people living their lives in and around Salford in these trying times,’ he added. ‘But I fear that some of the people I will portray may not survive and it could be a long time before we see groups of old people on a bench, chatting happily and passing the time in each other’s company.’

Fellow club members are working on pieces which directly address the outbreak – such as Kathy Bowers’s painting of a toilet roll hoarder, Elaine Hill’s work depicting the MPs and Gill Nicholas who is working on a triptych of paintings charting the outbreak.

Philip WestcottPhilip Westcott

Others, though, have chosen to focus on different aspects of life, with club member Lynn Kirkley painting flowers and landscapes. She said: ‘I have directed my artistic energy in a positive way, concentrating on the natural world and observing the spring flowers. It has helped me stay positive and is a lovely way to pass the time. These paintings all cheered me up and have been a perfect distraction from the pandemic.’

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