Corona Panic in Sutherland Grove, 2020
This painting has been shortlisted For the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. I am so delighted! Maybe you would like to know a little bit about what lies behind this image?
I always go for a walk every morning, and this became even more important during lockdown. In the first lockdown I would go to the local park or Wimbledon Common. I also discovered a long avenue of plane trees near to my home, which I seldom walked down before.
I became obsessed with photographing sketching and painting this road!
Meanwhile, as the autumn turned into winter the second lockdown began and everything got really scary.
I felt like there were germs all around us.
Every time I went out I felt anxious.
I think part of fibromyalgia is about the mental struggle, and I have definitely struggled with anxiety and depression for many years as part of this chronic pain condition.
Here I am going for a walk at dawn, with my backpack, being watched by ghostly figures who are keeping their distance.
Painting gave me a way to express how I was feeling during this really difficult time. And more than this, it allowed me to take my mind out of the situation around me and concentrate on trying to capture my emotions, and this strange and terrifying moment.
In this painting, which I made with gouache on paper with pen and acrylic paint highlights, I am the leaping person in the middle of the swirling avenue of trees. The pollarded limbs of the trees block out the sky like wizards' arms.
An idea I am exploring here is the way that pain and anxiety impulses are carried through the body through neurons and with chemical messengers.
I was also thinking of the images I saw in Crete of figures leaping over bulls.
I was so excited to receive the news that this painting has been shortlisted for the Royal Academy. And now, I have to submit my leaping girl to be judged in person by the selection committee. I hope she is feeling brave…
I needed expert help to get her ready for her interview! So I headed off to a wonderful shop called Fielders. It is a proper art supply and framing shop. There used to be quite a lot of shops like this but now they are really rare. And very precious, I think. You can find people who are really knowledgeable who will help you. And here is one of the team helping me to choose a mount and frame for my picture.