BN1 Magazine caught up with Clare Best as she describes what it’s like living and working as an artist in Paris during lockdown:
“What was it like for an artist during the lockdown in Paris?”, my friend recently asked. Let’s start with the latter part of that question, lockdown in Paris.
I am a Brighton born, Paris bound girl, how fortunate I have been. However, with the recent restrictions, I could’ve been anywhere or nowhere. Confined to the four walls of my studio.
And now the former, what was it like for an artist in lockdown? Well, as many artists may well agree, it was pretty much the same as life preceding the lockdown. I painted whilst listening to documentaries on topics from Eric Satie to epigenetics.
Long ago I realised the benefits of doing two things at once. Listening and learning distracts me from the anxiety of my perfectionism, and doubling up my activities makes me feel I stand a better chance of learning and accomplishing everything I dream of.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the outdoors and nature too. At first, I missed my daily visits to the nearby forest but I found that the “old normal” can all too quickly be replaced by a “new normal” for an adaptable creature such as myself.
One difference was that I began to teach my students English online instead of in person. This took a little getting used to but it was worth the time I gained from not travelling across the city.
As we all know, it’s rare to ever gain so much of that elusive and precious thing called Time, especially so suddenly and effortlessly. Finally I had more time and with a little pressure off trying to create pieces for my next exposition, I experimented with new materials and techniques.
In fact, the only notable difference was not having the freedom to pop to the art shop to stock up on supplies. Only establishments that sold the bare essentials were allowed to open. And clearly whoever put together this list of life’s necessities was not an artist themselves.
No sooner had I found a solution to my plight (the small art section in the hardware stores which had made it on to that list of “commerces essentials”…) my hopes of a new canvas had been dashed by a further tightening of restrictions. I was no longer allowed to venture further than 100km from home, in which there were no stores of the hardware variety.
Now that life has returned to a revised version of the old kind of normal, we hear how Coronavirus has potentially changed the fabric of our societies forever. I don’t know much about politics or economics (perhaps I should add it to my ‘documentaries to watch list’) but on a much smaller scale, the scale of me and my insignificant life, one thing is for sure, the fabric of my art has changed forever.
With no regular canvases to paint on, I turned to anything I could find around the house. I painted on wood (the black cat on the unused palate in the photo), plastic and glass. I began creating on surfaces I would never have dreamt of painting on without first sanding and priming them to perfection.
On realising the difference this could make to the materials I used and how I used them, my art and I became a little freer and less perfection-driven from the confines of confinement.
BN1 Magazine is the leading source of entertainment and lifestyle news in Brighton & Hove. From comedy and theatre to clubbing, music and festival line-ups, we cover a range of events across Sussex and beyond. We can help you find a fabulous vegetarian restaurant, catch an amazing new band at The Great Escape and see a hypnotising performance at Brighton Fringe. Sometimes all in the same weekend… Whether you’re a student and new in town, trying to pack plenty of family fun into a visit or a local planning a massive night out, we’ll tell you everything you need to know. From pubs and bars to art and shopping, it’s time to kiss those lonely blues away in one of the world’s most interesting cities.