Conversation 21: Covid19 and Creativity


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

Small Steps, Big Difference Series, starting 16/2/21:

Recording of the event:

Cornwall Science Community and Arts Well Shinrin Yoku Forest Bathing

A video of the event


Arts and Health SW

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:  

Lockdown Orchestra:

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

6 Comments on “Conversation 21: Covid19 and Creativity”

  1. I was astonished at the burst of emotion and creativity that was triggered by the first lockdown. Over the weeks and months that followed, I read of others who found the same thing – among them Tracy Emin, the artist. I think it was partly the confinement and quiet – for those without small children in the house, at any rate. But the greater part was the shearing force of the sudden change from ‘normal life’ – whatever that is – to the disruption of everything, and the unexpected serious threat to life – Zap! And the Spring was glorious! I remember a couple of days into lockdown going to empty the waste into the wheeliebin. It was dead quiet; the stars were coming out, the moon was up, and there was a blackbird singing. I was totally exalted! I wrote a poem – it took only twenty minutes, and is one of my best. I’m not going to put it here – too long. But here is a recent little one at the turn of the year:

    strange year
    the shaft struck unexpected
    emotion welled artesian
    a gush of love projected
    and the fear

    Then gradually, of course, we became habituated….until The Daily Haiku unleashed another round of creativity, like a pinball bouncing around in unexpected directions.

  2. We’re so pleased our Shinrin-Yoku talk from Paul Simmons reached you! We really enjoyed reading your post and seeing what else you’ve found in your webinar journey! Good luck with your forest bathing – we’ll be joining you in spirit.

    ~Cornwall Science Community

  3. Wow all these wonderful links to explore. Many thanks . Keith can I say I really enjoyed reading your post too. Would love to hear your Blackbird poem. Your Haiku expressed very well the pressure, almost artesian that lockdown has brought about, the myriad of emotion too. I haven’t heard the word artesian for ages but it brought me back to geography class as a young child, pleased to learn a word that sounded so exciting. Might have to write a poem and incorporate.

  4. Having just come out of one darkness it would seem I was to face another. Carefully reconstructing my life after my husband’s death. I have no set religion so no comfort of ever seeing him again. I lost faith in faith and felt hopeless. But with counselling, and my own redemption I survived. It was a rebirth, my whole outlook on life changed. I joined groups, entered the world again, grew strong. Then came covid and lockdown and everything, everybody taken away from me again. Poetry saved me in bereavement now in this uncertainty it saves me again. Haiku in particular makes me take a more intimate look on life and nature. It is the magnitude of simplicity. Senses tuned into the present moment. I do not experience complete composure or ultimate calm. I do experience life however

  5. so brilliant to read people’s stories here… the strangeness of the past year has had an unexpected effect for me too: after my mother’s death a year ago I found I was untroubled by the first Lockdown, as I needed some quiet time to recover from all the practical jobs that had kept me in a busy and agitated state. But now we’re in Lockdown 3, it feels different – a sense of loss of usual life is now unavoidable, as my accustomed work is almost impossible to keep going in current times. so without my agency the emphasis of what is important has shifted; I now write every day, even if it’s only seventeen syllables! a huge thank you to Amanda and TDH for this… change always means loss, which is why we fear it. but we may look back and see that what we have changed into is better, richer, more authentic, than what we were before.

  6. Take a breath. Sigh. Look again at my first haiku on May 29, 2020, and remember that day. Up until that day I had only written an occasional poem, maybe once a year. Friends wrote haiku but I had a mental block against following the 5/7/5 “rules.”

    It wasn’t until May 29th that a switch was flipped. The cause may have been juxtaposed events of (1) fearfully arriving home with a husband fresh out of surgery to find helicopters circling, the streets of Minneapolis Minnesota under curfew because of riots and looting (2) a stranger leaving a bouquet of flowers on my doorstep. He/she is still unknown.

    I quickly photographed the flowers and eventually wrote something that was to become my first haiku.

    reaching for kindness
    love, peace, and understanding
    instead of sorrow

    Discovering the joy of haiku is saving my soul during the pandemic. No longer feeling empty, quite the contrary. Feeling joy, laughter, and inspiration from THE DAILY HAIKU community and the challenge to write several haiku each day.

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