Surviving the Pandemic with Art Therapy

The Art Therapy Agency presents an online exhibition of artworks by therapists and clients. Here we share some of their reflections on the pandemic and thoughts about how making art has helped them to get through this difficult time.

01. ‘Realigning the landscape’

Marion Major

Inks and thread on handmade paper

Looking down on the landscape and feelings of being up in the air, Covid divides us.

The (lack of) realigning in the image was both frustrating and beautiful at the same time – like scars on our body, even when wounds are healed it shows where we have been.

 

 

02. Don’t look

Katherine Heritage

Collage. Black and white photocopies on paper

As we view the trauma of the pandemic in real time, it’s hard not to see the wealth divisions in society that are worsening. Perhaps for some it’s just too hard to bear thinking about those who have risked their lives for the minimum wage or less.

03. Sketching nature (1 of 3)

Carol Ross

Pastels on paper

During lockdown, the only place I wanted to be was somewhere green and I spent as much time as I could at Hampstead Heath or Waterlow Park in North London. During that time, I did a number of pastel sketches most of which were of trees and plants from photos I took there. Being in nature and sketching kept me sane.

 

04. Sketching nature (2 of 3)

Carol Ross

Pastels on paper

 

 

05. Sketching nature (3 of 3)

Carol Ross

Pastels on paper

 

06. Connections

Anne Stegmann

Mixed media – Woodys, inks, pencil, oil pastel, black felt tip, thread and wool

The pandemic overwhelmed me when life came to a standstill. Anxiety followed, then acceptance.  Art Therapy provided an outlet for my emotions. ‘Connections’ resembles a patchwork; some pieces firmly bonded, some detached, reflective of my life. I feel stronger, enriched and grateful for the nourishing connections that sustain me.

 

 

07. Peak

Anon

Mixed Media Collage

During the lockdown I felt so trapped and frustrated. I could not go to college or see my friends and I was stuck at home with my family.

Art therapy gave me an outlet to show my emotions. Just being able to get what was in my head out on paper made me feel a bit better.

 

 

08. Solitary

Anon 

Mixed Media Collage

This image expresses the loneliness I felt during lockdown. I took solace from walking in nature, especially by sea. The artwork is made out fragments of torn paper which seem to reflect the chaotic and disorganised nature of life having been ripped apart…

It feels as if I am trying to find a way to piece it all together again.

 

 

09. Inside I’m screaming

Anon

Mixed Media Collage

 

The lockdown was long and challenging. The things I took for granted were no longer available to me, which made me feel frustrated, angry and oppressed.

This image shows the part of me that felt helpless and fearful. Just being able to see the strength of my feelings made me realise how important self care was during this time. Acknowledging this helped to instigate some positive changes that made the lockdown more bearable.

 

 

10. Letting go

Anon

Poster paints

I am a very organised and busy person. The lockdown brought some very unique challenges and I felt out of control at times which was stressful. Taking time to make art was a new thing to me. I really enjoyed being free to make this image, there was no rules and there was no judgement. It allowed me to let go of some control and just be in the moment.

 

11. AM/PM 2020 (6 of 89)

Vicky Lysons

Watercolour on paper

During first 8 months of the pandemic I used quick, automatic mark making, in the mornings and evenings, to externalise and capture feelings of flux and uncertainty, and to establish an emotionally grounding practice. In the vibrant colours and shapes that poured onto the paper I found respite, vitality, and flow.

 

 

12. No time to grieve

Anon

Mixed Media Collage

 

I was sad during the lockdown. I had lost a work colleague  to COVID and there seemed to be no time to reflect and grieve. There was a sense of just having to get on with life, despite losing people. This picture reflects the pain of grief. 

 

13. Spread your wings wide (portrait)

Hanna Leipold

Pen and Watercolours on Paper

 

 

14. Moved Stillness (abstract painting)

Hanna Leipold

Oil and Acrylics on Canvas

 

 

 15. Lockdown Dog

James Lenton

Pen & Ink, Photoshop

I am a visual artist and arts facilitator based in South London. I volunteer for the charity ARTBOX in my spare time. During the pandemic I founded a community arts’ initiative called ‘Draw Yourself’. By focusing on self portrait (hence the project’s name) we aim to look at how we can learn more about ourselves through mark making. This is a drawing from my sketchbook in pen & ink which I have then manipulated in Photoshop… creating a ‘blurred’ self portrait.

16. Eyes down

James Lenton

Pen & Ink, Photoshop

This is a drawing from my sketchbook which I have overlaid and recoloured… it’s open to interpretation. 

17. Sea Creatures

Anon

Clay and Poster Paint

The sea can be a dark and mysterious place. Sometimes it is dangerous and unpredictable. Yet beneath the surface you can find curious and wonderous things, although this often requires bravery, persistence and risk. The sea is a useful metaphor for my unconscious and the sea creatures represent the insight and self discoveries that lurk beneath the conscious mind.  I had no idea how this artwork would turn out, I just allowed myself the freedom to play and be curious about what bubbled up to the surface. 

18. Weathering the Storm

Anon

Poster Paint on paper

In the first few days of lockdown when we didn’t know what we were dealing with… everything felt terrifying. My anxiety levels went through the roof. This image seems to express some of the feelings I was going through. It was a confusing and stressful time. Making art was a release and helped me feel calmer.

19. ‘Lost’, ‘Layers’ and ‘Shells’
Anon
Digitally edited drawings and paintings

During the first Lockdown, I regularly made art with another person over Zoom. This helped me to feel connected and less socially isolated.  I also digitally edited art works I had created in the past and thought about how they resonated on an emotional level with my experiences during the Pandemic. Here are three of the artworks I created… Lost, Layers and Shells.

20. Animation

Anon

Paper, paint, tissue paper, paintbox and brush

Making art helped me through the pandemic, as it always has helped in difficult times. Engaging with the familiar essence of the materials helped to keep anxiety at bay and stay grounded. The colourful round objects in my short animation were inspired by media representations of the virus cells.