A Spring Like No Other


Fritillaries

Linoprint

Walking through the supermarket the other day, I heard someone say to a reacquainted friend, “And how was your lockdown?” It seemed such an odd thing, rather like asking how someone’s Christmas was, and yet, as people emerge from their homes and meet others again, it is perfectly natural to ask how they have fared during this extraordinary and unprecedented time.

It also chimed with my own thoughts about these last few weeks. At the beginning of March I started writing Morning Pages, a daily writing exercise created by Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way”. It inadvertently became a daily record of the events of the period, my response to it, helping me cope with the worry of the daily news and fears for my mum who was in isolation on the other side of the country. It also became a nature journal, noting down what I saw in the garden, charting its progress and recording the visitors and the succession of Spring flowers. And now, as the slow shift to the normality begins, I have been thinking back on these days.

Tulip

Linoprint

Available as a print and as a card in my shop

Nature has flourished and has been allowed to breathe and enjoy the space with less human activity. I live in the centre of the small market town of Diss. There is a constant drone of noise, of traffic, of people going about their lives and what has been most noticeable has been the difference when this background hum is taken away. If there is one thing that defines this period for me it is the birdsong. The air seemed full of their full throated joy: the Robin, the Blackbird and the Blackcap all sang with such apparent abandon. It seemed so poignant and precious and such a welcome respite amidst all of the daily news bulletins. One morning I arose at 4.30 to listen to the dawn chorus. I walked down the garden, and sat on the bench, and listened as the light lifted bringing with it the most incredible intense sound. Not only were there the usual garden birds but also the geese, who are resident in the park gardens across the water, who joined in, honking in their own riotous fashion and this made me smile at their eagerness to join in.

Dawn Chorus, May 2020

I have seen comments in the press that lockdown has been like returning to the 1970’s and I realised that this period of my childhood, although spent in very urban Wolverhampton, was indeed much quieter and the back garden had been full of sparrows and starlings, and a mistle thrush too, who had been a favourite visitor. Indeed these days had been like returning to those long summer holidays, where time too had felt suspended.

It has also been an opportunity to slow down, pause and reassess. For the first couple of weeks, like many, I was unable to work on my art at all. My concentration went and instead I worked on the garden with fervour, conquering patches that had been neglected for years. It was a very effective and therapeutic way to push away the worries of what was happening. There is something about gardening that seems to remove other thoughts, and I was very grateful for it.

Narcissi

Linoprint

Available as a print and as a card in my shop

I then began to put my toe back in the studio and began drawing the early spring flowers: the fritillary, the early daffodils and later the tulips. Unable to still make anything large scale, I made small, pared down linoprints of my sketches and then finally a larger one of the sinuous fritillaries.

Snakeshead Fritillary

Linoprint

Available as a print and a card in my shop

In the same vein I made small, hand printed cards of the blackbird and wren. Unable to get hold of new materials, I used small pieces of lino and printed these new designs on some recycled brown cards I had bought a while ago, unable to think quite what to do with them at the time.

Wren

Hand printed card in my Etsy shop

Looking back on these weeks, they already seem unreal and indeed at the time, it seemed hardly believable either. I am now returning to drawing again and am looking forward to going out into the countryside that I have so sorely missed, hoping to hear a Cuckoo and a Nightingale before they leave us again. But I shall treasure the Robin, the Blackbird and Blackcap who sang to me this Spring and brought me such comfort and joy,

Blackbirds

Handprinted cards in my Etsy shop

Spring Blooms

Collection of Four Cards available in my shop

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