Covid19 continues to bring enormous change and fresh challenges to all our lives. For many of us work that happened in person has either evaporated or gone online. For key service providers work pressures have increased to levels that have never been seen before. Mental health issues are increasing across all demographics. Creativity is being valued more than ever as something that we need, enjoy and makes us feel better.
This week I have been taking part in a series of webinars and zoom meet-ups reflecting on Covid19, what we have been doing during this time, sharing our practices and looking to the future. Without the possibility of meeting up I am embracing online connection. Of course, this is most clearly evidenced through my involvement with THE DAILY HAIKU and now THE GREAT MARGIN. But I am keen to find out what other people are doing too and sharing my own experiences.
We are living through a time dominated by restriction where there is an ever greater need to find opportunities, adapt and to reach out to foster our wellbeing. Creativity has become very active and for many more accessible; although digital poverty has been highlighted as a major issue. With less to DO we are seizing opportunities to DO different and new things beyond passive engagement whilst also cultivating existing interests that we may not have had time for before. These are the positive aspects from the heart-breaking experience of Covid19 .
The first get-together I had this week was with the inspiring NOW (Network of Wellbeing). It felt so good to connect and share what we were all up to. We also had a mindfulness session to put us in a relaxed place. It is easy when working from home, as many of us are, to feel isolated or to get in a rut. Meeting likeminded people engaged in wellbeing activities is really positive. It was also a chance for NOW to present some of their key projects including their involvement in the inspiring Leeds Festival of kindness and the forthcoming collaboration with the Eden Project Small Steps, Big Difference Series, starting on the 16/2/21.
My second online event was something I had never heard of before: Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing presented by Paul Simmons. This event was hosted by the Cornwall Science Community and ArtsWell. Forest bathing is a revelation. Much of the philosophy of immersing oneself in a forest and just being, resonates with aspects of haiku writing and practice. I love it! Of course, I want to go barefoot into a forest with a group of people and enjoy a tea ceremony but can bank this as something to do when we can all get together again.
Finally Arts and Health SW hosted a webinar featuring Get Creative run by The BBC and other partners. It is uplifting to hear about the ways that this initiative, originally just a week long festival, is now evolving into an ongoing and responsive service. Their live life drawing classes were a huge success and afterwards 26000 drawings were sent in. They have a growing database of what is available in your postcode as well as ongoing programmes, workshops and events nationwide. Their focus going forward is to reach out to those experiencing loneliness and to widen participation to those in most need.
What I am left with from engaging this week is that when we return to a different way of life we retain the positive benefits of creative engagement. There is so much going on right now to embrace and get involved in, try something new, slow down, connect with others, notice the world around us, get out for a walk, write, paint, draw, sing….
Do share your own Covid19 creative journeys, practices and news.
Network of Wellbeing https://networkofwellbeing.org
Small Steps, Big Difference Series, starting 16/2/21: https://edenproject.zoom.us/
Recording of the event: https://youtu.be/gt_c2fyjv_0
Cornwall Science Community and Arts Well Shinrin Yoku Forest Bathing
A video of the event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRpJW5RxLV0
Arts and Health SW https://www.ahsw.org.uk
Here are some links related to what was spoken about in the Arts and Health SW Webinar:
Life Drawing Live – Drawing The Nation Together:
Get Creative At Home Masterclass:
Museum of East Dorset, The Woodcutter and Swan:
Michael Craig Martin – Colouring in Poster:
Article: “Even a small amount of creativity can help you cope with modern life, reveals new research by BBC Arts and UCL”
Twitter: @TheGreatMargin and @amandawhite10