Artcrimes

Welcome to the website of Susan M. Coles, Artist & Arts, Creativity & Educational Consultant.

Posted in Hope for the Future

It was going to be a bumper spring for me. This week in particular (end of March, start of April), from Birmingham to Oldham to Newcastle to Northumberland, lectures, conferences, even some leisure time with a weekend away with my two sisters at a log cabin. Then April, May and June was more Conferences and in school insets, all of which were going to be interesting and fun to be part of. The InSEA European Congress in July was/is going to held in Baeza in Spain, in fact it isn’t yet cancelled. But, it might be. I worked with my art education colleague Paul Carney on some of these upcoming UK conferences, we did have a plan B for postponement, but now we are on plan C and maybe even plan D. There is the possibility of no plan as well.

So, the arrival of Coronavirus changed it all, and will change it all and will change us all. Our world has shrunk. We live inside our houses, how long for we don’t know. Fresh air is an entitlement, but limited to solitary or partner walking. In my village, the wood pigeons are fat on worms and can hardly fly when you disturb them, the crows and rooks seem to be hanging about in menacing gangs as they own the spaces now, because they can. So, the streets are eerily quiet, the odd dog walkers, a few cars, which all seem to be driving much more slowly. The air is certainly fresher. The pubs are closed. The cafes are closed. The Chinese take away has even closed its doors. My village is the land that time forgot.

Our house is warm and cosy, as always, we both have always had our own working spaces for study and work. Last week’s fine weather meant the garden was done, much earlier than it ever is, neatened up, spruced up, jet washed, and just nice to gaze at, from the windows and the doorway, or sit in- if the weather allows.

I still have work to do and am blessed with great colleagues and collaborators, who meet online, and instead of seeing this lock down as a barrier, we see it as an opportunity, and we share our ideas for alternatives and for creating new pathways.

I am also part of the army of self employed who will have to watch the pennies carefully and plead with people who still owe us money from invoices to actually stump up and pay. If they can. I have spent hours this week just trying to get refunds on trains and hotels. Well done Premier Inn, well done Air BnB and pull your finger out LNER.

As a chair of governors at a primary school, I am also involved in checking in there to see how the school is managing with teaching and with being a hub for free school meals. They are incredible, as are all teachers and teaching assistants and all the staff at schools, as are all the people working at what we now call the ‘frontline’. The NHS, the volunteers, the HGV drivers, the train crews, the bus drivers, the shelf stackers, the call centres, a lost too long to write properly. My own teacher friends are either in school some days or hunched over a laptop ‘teaching’ or ‘marking’. I know they miss normality. We all do.

The new government do not give me confidence. But, what has happened is that their smug sense of complacency has quickly evaporated, as they have to deal with the unimaginable and face the realities of knowing their party has contributed largely to ten years of cutting support for health care, social care, education, and more, and created a country which for some time has lacked a moral compass.

The community of art educators across countries, organisations and institutions have been amazing in creating opportunities to share resources and opportunities through the online platforms. Suddenly, it looks as if creativity is the solution to softening the blow of isolation. I hope that children enjoy the freedom of choice whilst still going through the motions of being indoctrinated in the core subjects. I hope that they play, create, make, experiment, learn through mistakes- the things that have been nudged out of the education system in England. And, as for not being able to ‘do’ exams this summer, young people…. you will have a stress free summer, because your grades will be based on teacher assessment and not on how you perform at a desk in a hall on a hot summer afternoon, once in your life.

I have used our local shops and avoided supermarkets. We have what we need, and there is adventure in creating new meals and recipes to be honest. We have not been ill.

It is so sad to think of the people who are completely locked in and will be for several months. The homeless, the ones who live alone, those that are sick and are vulnerable.

There isn’t a magic wand to wave. Pandemics are not new. But, our society is reeling from the loss of control, the breakdown of comfort zones and structures, the truth that we are but humans and we can never ‘own’ nature. If we learn anything, it is to value what you have in terms of relationships, friendships, histories, and to give as much as you ever take. To quote from Buddha ‘Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.’

Comments

Stan the man

174 days ago

yes- everything has changed, maybe we come out of this better as human beings. Hopeful that we will. Thanks Susan ….

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