Studio-ID Art Gallery‘s Conversation blog/magazine invited contemporary artist Nicola Anthony, based in Ireland, to share her series of videos on her creative ways of dealing with the lockdown period. We watched her Episode 1 from last week.

Its our privilege to be able to share her first hand experiences, and creative ideas that could bring a lot of inspiration to all of us. Every artist is creating and recreating themselves in these challenging times, and its a thrill to see a whole new world of using technology emerging from the other side of the world. It proves creativity combined with technology rocks!

Watch episode 2 of the series brought to you in collaboration with the Nicola.

Hi my name is Nicola Anthony, I am a sculptor who is trapped at home during lockdown – without my metalworking equipment and my art studio I am doing much less of my large metal sculptures which require welding equipment and access to big workshop spaces, and much more small work in my temporary home art studio.

In my search for creative ways to problem solve during this time, I decided to share with you my learnings and mistakes, along with words from my own creative mentors and coaches who are helping me so much right now, and of course two newly promoted studio helpers.

I have always freelanced and sometimes worked from home – but I make it a rule never to work or try to be productive in my pajamas! Some friends of mine put on their ‘uniform’ before starting work from home – their work clothes, and this just helps them be in the right mindset. My husband is trying to emulate his daily commute to work by taking his permitted daily exercise as a short walk every morning before starting work from the home office. 

Another tip for lowering levels of stress and rage (yes there have been a few during these past weeks…!) is, to label things  – especially if you are messy like me! A potential source of stress for me as an artist over the years has been that a studio space is constantly evolving and in flux. I am constantly moving the furniture and shelves around to fit in big sculptures or moving to larger and smaller spaces to adapt to my projects. This can result in a lot of lost time and frustration searching for the scissors or that specific folder or shade of paint…. So a few years back I started to put labels on all my boxes and drawers. This may not be for everyone (and believe me it goes against my chaotic nature), however it is a great thing to do even temporarily during times of anxiety – it’s one less thing to stress about, one less layer of tension.

I want to talk about how I applied my learnings from my career as an artist to my world in lockdown now. (and lets face it it’s not quite that easy to get simple things done at this moment).

I have to admit, at first I failed because my new ‘home art desk’ had to transform back into a dining table in the evenings – and the stress of my workspace feeling so temporary and in-the-way was actually quite high – i guess the  small things are getting to us all right now!!

So, now I have a desk set up in a way that is working for me, and because this is a time when business is slower for everybody in all industries, I also put some reminders to myself about why I should stay motivated and carry on. 

My video above shows my favourite at the moment – It’s not a cheesy quote it’s literally a note to self:

Reminding me that even in times when it’s hard to feel motivated, when I have less positive feedback from my studio team, from studio visits, or from people at my exhibitions – that I should keep going and keep passionate about what I do. 

I want to finally make a point about surrounding ourselves with positive influences and good news in our mental space. 

I am sure we have all heard advice to limit our consumption of news and of social media right now, but it is also a time when we can actively reach out to those who make us smile and feel loved, or who inspire us, and connect on a video call.

At last we have a perfect excuse to set our boundaries and  eliminate any toxic characters or negative people from our lives wherever possible – this is definitely one silver lining a lot of folks I have chatted to are finding. However, I want to also acknowledge here that some people live with negative influences or toxic relationships at home, as is becoming so apparent in local and international news of calls to domestic abuse helplines. If this is you, please do reach out for help.

I will leave you with another nugget of wisdom from Deborah Henry Pollard about making a Well Being Weekly Planner

She says:

“Taking care of yourself is always important and never more than in this strange and unsettling time. Whether you are in shock about the “new normal” or embracing new opportunities, your wellbeing is paramount. However, it can often be the thing which drops down the to do list and gets lost in the middle of everything else. To avoid that:

Get your planner or calendar.  

For every day in the week, schedule 1 thing you will do every day for yourself and your wellbeing.

This can be the same thing every day, as a routine, or a different treat for each day.

It can be a big thing like: watching a film, going for your walk; half an hour reading a novel; meditation; a manicure; taking an afternoon off. Or it can be a small thing, like wearing your best earrings, trimming your beard, turning off your social media for 10 minutes, having a bar of chocolate.

It is not about setting an agenda to beat yourself up with, but being kind to yourself.”

That’s all for now – thanks so much to Deborah Henry Pollard for her input to this video and to all of you who shared your experiences prompting me to make this video.

And now, I should get back to work!