By Christopher Tobutt
Artists and musicians are free spirits, and they don’t like restrictions, such as those brought by the COVID-19 rules. Painters of landscapes and seascapes, or photographers who like to catch the hustle of town scenes, are naturally going to feel restricted. But being shut up on your own for long periods also gives artists the chance to explore inner landscapes; the reflective world of the soul.
Professional painter and sculptor Artist Al Ebanks has been using the time to delve more deeply into the nature of human interactions. “In this human world, we always rise to overcome and I am no different. I started on a new series of art, called “Unmasked.” When the mask is taken off, the true colors and character come to light. Sometimes it's not a beautiful picture, in this series, I used subtitles, like empty space. It's a natural selection, for the human to find their own space.” About one of his new paintings, entitled Domino Effect, shows a stylized handshake: “In this current situation, a simple handshake can cause a domino effect,” he said.
June South-Robinson is an Inclusion Specialist, working with children, but she is also a well-established visual artist with her own distinctive style in painting: “For me, COVID19 was the unseen, unspeakable horror,” she said. “Living alone, here, in Grand Cayman also suddenly felt like the loneliest place in the world and the geographic distance between my children in the UK and my mother in Jamaica seemed to have become a yawning dark chasm. For the first time in my life I felt totally alone. So I started to paint, and write to make sense of the moment we are in.
“I do believe that art and storytelling can help us come together, cope and heal in the face of grief and loss. It took me to that ‘quiet place’ – where nothing hurts, loneliness and worries are gone, and I inhabit a place of joyful oblivion. That’s where the large painting, ‘Hope” came from. It shows a mother with her hands uplifted to heaven entreating for intervention, while surrounded by colours which symbolize peaceful hope.”
Helene Jones has many years’ experience as a photographer, and has found that the lockdown was a key to looking more closely: “There is a lot to capture from the smallest insect to the depths of a flower. My backyard on Sundays has been a treasure-store where I find all kinds of things. At night when I could not leave the yard I look for things look the full moon or frogs to photograph I always bring my camera when I go for a walk, just in case I would see something unusual like a parrot flying towards me,” she said.
Local painter, Zane Kuttner said: “In quarantine I have forced myself to push my limits while I can and paint that which I am usually uncomfortable with, focusing on colour and value; I am always learning and what better time to take advantage of the time given?”
James Geary is a local musician, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter. Like many other artists, he has found the unprecedented times to be a source of inspiration. “Lockdown has provided me an opportunity,” he said. “I think pain produces some of the best art I have ever made and that has been my COVID experience as a musician…I've been able to tap into a creative that I have seldom experienced before, and it has produced a lot of written material and creative ideas.
Mr. Geary has also helped pioneer some online musicians groups, sharing music and ideas with one another: “My friend Amy Kiflin actually introduced me to a group out of Canada who created an online community to uplift people, so we thought it would be a good idea to start one here,” he explained. “We musicians have been very adept in collaborating with one another while maintaining social distancing. I really feel like we are helping to promote peace and sanity by using our gifts.”