Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Made at Home

A celebration of creative resilience

By Alice Sage

In March 2020 countries around the globe went into lockdown to try and stop the spread of coronavirus. In the first weeks, supermarkets struggled to fill the shelves as people stocked up. Loo roll became a symbol of  both excess and necessity. On social media, against a dark backdrop of anxiety and anger, I started to see flashes of light. Pictures of sewing, baking, painting… By April, this had become an explosion of creativity as people sought ways to make it through the weeks indoors. Sowing, knitting, writing…At the same time, I felt profoundly grateful and fortunate to have a safe and secure roof over my head. More than ever, the pandemic highlighted how not everybody was so lucky – many have been quarantined in overcrowded, unsafe or precarious conditions. ‘Made at Home’ was dreamed up as a way to harness domestic creativity to raise money for Crisis, the national charity working to end homelessness.”    Says Alice Sage author compiler and publisher.

I can’t explain why, but my print seemed to strike a miraculous chord with people, who put it up in
windows and even made a tattoo of it. It made me realise that so many people were dejected, and a little bit of art had given them a lift – amazing! Home is even more of a haven than I thought it was.

Over two weeks, 120 people responded to her call for pictures and accounts of their creative projects. Nearly double that number donated to her crowd funding campaign. The result of all this energy is a very interesting book. As she says ‘It is a rather random snapshot of a singular moment, which brought people together from across the world, while we were unable to see our own neighbours and families. And it serves as a record of what people got up to in March and April 2020.

My creative outlet just now has been creating with and for my 3-year-old
My idea of home has relaxed so much.We are usually so busy, filling time
with being outside. This time has really allowed us to connect with the space we
live in and to actually enjoy our home. ROSIE WALTERS

            A problem that had previously seemed insurmountable, homelessness, provoked swift action from UK Governments as Coronavirous took hold. Scotland banned evictions for six months and housed homeless people in hotels and B&Bs. Councils in England were ordered to find emergency accommodation for everybody who was sleeping rough or in hostels or shelters. Asylum seekers and immigrants who normally cannot access public support were included in the measures. Westminster even restored housing benefit. Homeless people are more likely to have respiratory problems, making them especially vulnerable to the virus; and it is impossible to self-isolate in a hostel bunk. As a national charity, Crisis has been lobbying government to make these changes, and coordinating the response. They have worked with local organizations to provide accommodation and distributed emergency funds. At the same time, their income has fallen as charity shops closed and fundraising events were cancelled. They need our help to ensure that the emergency measures lead to sustained improvements. The events of March 2020 showed that people at risk can be supported and sheltered when there is political will to do so.

Staying at home has made me more aware of going out rather than defining anything new about staying in. I have a heightened awareness of the outside world as my experience of it moves from direct contact to memory and second-hand imagery. Strangely as I stay indoorsfor longer I seem to be developing a great interest in medieval times when people were more encamped and
the defining aspects of life were more straightforward. JOHN BROWN

The various contributors to the book have one thing in common: they found resilience through creativity. During lockdown, people looked back to old passions, and picked up new skills. They reached out, and carried on. As well as describing what they have been making, each contributor has also reflected upon their idea of ‘home’.

For example Maya Chessman took up rag rugging:

‘Home has always been a place for protection, emotionally and physically, but this has felt so much more important as every day passes. It’s allowed me to make things and cook things and I’ve felt more compelled to enhance the homeliness of the space.’

Annbeller Rose 82  carried on crocheting I am a crocheter. It keeps me busy and I love making people smile with my makes. I would definitely recommend to anyone to try learning crochet orknitting, it’s very rewarding. ANNABELLEROSE82

Whilst John Paterson and Claire Craig had this to say: John has always been very content staying in and doing things at home. However, it has made me value slowed-down and drawn-out time. Before, my time at home was scheduled around going out; what thing could I fit in before leaving – dinner, washing, sleep? But now time is plentiful and activities are long: 24-hour marinades; two hours’ uninterrupted reading or internet surfing; entire flat dusting;researching and baking another banana bread. All have been a privilege.

Shine PND Support is a charity that helps mums with perinatal (during or after pregnancy) mental health issues through peer support and crafting. They have had to close their physical workshops during lockdown, says Linda Viner from Unwind Arts and Crafts.

Staying home has meant so many different things for the mums that Shine supports. For some, having to stay home has triggered memories of times when they were unable to leave the house for months due to anxiety; for others, it has meant not being to attend toddler groups and classes that are a vital support; others have been overwhelmeat the prospect of having no help with childcare from nursery or grandparents. But for others, staying at home is a sanctuary, and some have found they were stronger and more able to cope than they ever thought, and some have be able to strengthen the bond with their little ones.And they have been there supporting each other online through it all, and have found a home and a retreat in the Shine facebook group, where they can share their worries, hopes, craft ideas, beautiful moments and difficult days.

For many, the meaning has changed, to include ideas of shelter, refuge, and occasionally imprisonment.”

           The book is a cross section of society with young, old, families and organizations all being represented. Some are truly eccentric such as Liz Daniels

My life these last 6 weeks has not really changed much from usual. I spend a lot of time at home in my studio making art and that’s what I have been doing. Everyday. Art keeps me sane and now more than ever I find being creative a vital tool for transformation and sound mind.

There are those who learnt new skills and those who revisited old pastimes. Cooking, gardening, painting, being creative with junk, collage, rag rugging, quilt making, origami, crochet, novel writing, sewing, embroidery, dyeing, weaving and even making a baby during lockdown are all represented.

I made this wrap-around top using pieces of cotton that I dyed with indigo whilst studying textiles at art school. Throughout this time, my appreciation of having a home to live in has definitely grown and I realise how fortunate I am to be in this position. MOLLY

There is lots of recycling and using what is to hand to create something. Each person, describes how lockdown has affected their life. Many show how the creative process, and the pleasure that being in the moment has given them, hope, emotional stability and pleasure.

Orkney is a beautiful and inspirational place to live with the natural scenery and
other influential artists and designers based here. Being isolated here has
forced me to focus on my art practice more, acting as a release for creativity
and allowing me to learn and develop new techniques, even when I am unable
to access the studios.

This is a lovely book to own , and it will also make a wonderful Christmas present, at the same time as helping the homeless.

The book is available in paperback and hardback from the publishers

Paperback is £10 Hardback is £30 Both include UK postage

Wide Open Sea Publishers

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