Lockdown nostalgia for studio time

Critic 1
Critic 2
Rhonda Dredge

Two artists used the lockdown to protect what is important to them, and that is time in the studio.

Kristin Headlam and Louise Forthun showed the product of their persistence at Library at the Dock last month.

They called the exhibition THE CAVE to reflect the space they were forced to inhabit.

Kristin was facing up to being a carer for her partner and the hour or two she grabbed in the studio was precious.

Louise’s partner was working from home, and she “rushed” out the front door at 9am as soon as he got on his computer and began barking orders.

All of us were forced to find ways of living at close quarters with other demanding humans and Louise did this by spending “twice as much time” in the studio.

That’s what made this exhibition so precious. Here were two experienced artists documenting their time in a truthful way and admitting to “lockdown nostalgia”.

There have been some artists who have created mileage for themselves out of the pandemic by dramatising events in the media.

“The pandemic is not in the least interesting,” Kristin said. “It’s the place that it put us.”

She got painting as soon as she arrived in her garden studio, not worrying too much about subject matter, whereas in the past she would muck around for several hours.

The results were some lovely little studies, still life’s, of everyday objects such as bowls and dogs and corners of the garden. Even a grumpy child appeared in the mix.

Louise had just done a spray-painting course before the lockdown and she began practicing, crumpling up paper and mixing colours.

The results were volumetric studies, some like topographical maps, others fully developed and cast in bronze.

Studies show her process at work and these artists were happy to talk to Docklands News as they took down the show.

Kristin reflected on some of the larger, finished work she’s shown at Charles Nodrum Gallery, including a painting she did of John Howard wearing shoes that were too big for him.

“My friend bought the painting,” she said. “People ask her why she has John Howard on her wall. They see things in terms of personality.”

In fact, the work was political satire, memorable for the group of people standing around at the opening having a laugh at the prime minister of the day.

Kristin kept up her hand during lockdown when she couldn’t get to the studio by doing small pen portraits of people on TV.

Her drawing of Alan Kohler with his hunched shoulders and ironic air pay tribute to a voice of reason, highly valued among the lockdown hype. •


Caption 1: Louise Forthun amongst her spray-painted flights of fancy.

Caption 2: Kristin Headlam with her portrait of Alan Kohler.

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