Inspiration from Tragedy

I do not think that many people would argue that there is a tragedy unfolding in the world today, known as the coronavirus. It is disrupting lives, making people sick, threatening vulnerable populations, destroying livelihoods and is generally a menace.

I recently completed a sculpture of the coronavirus, which you can see more images of here.

My coronavirus sculpture in process.

In the comments and amongst friends and family a number of people were wondering why I would make such a dark creation. That inspired me to talk a little more about my thinking before, during and after the experience.

Initially, I was inspired by the interesting images of the virus and that in it’s physical form it was an intriguing shape, that could help me hone my throwing and handbuilding skills.

Beyond that I found the process empowering. The coronavirus has been impacting my mental health and in all honesty making me feel some fear. Part of this is that because of past health issues I have had, I am particularly vulnerable to a poor outcome should I get coronavirus.

Through this process I was able to face my fear around the virus and let it go by making a physical representation of it. Somehow, for me it helped to dispel the fear and helped me get back into a normal artistic practice.

Going through the process I was able to see beauty in the physical form of this piece as well. It brought me hope that as horrible as this pandemic is, that it is an opportunity for the world to become a better place and address more suffering and inequality in the world.

It has also inspired some new creativity. I loved hearing everyone’s comments on other things this sculpture could be. So that will certainly inspire some new makes. But also, I have decided to do a new series of globular forms. Think celestial. I may have to make another piece like this and call it Sputnik.

This easing of fear has allowed me to embrace my art more and find greater peace with this situation. I still have every intention of self isolating to protect myself from the coronavirus and staying safe. I hope all of you stay safe too and find a way to challenge any fear you might have into something that positive and empowering. One way could be by adding your comment for inclusion in The Vase of Dreams. From darkness can come growth and positive change.

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74 Comments

  1. Good for you!
    I admire how you can take something that scares you and make into something new. The act of creating and sharing is truly therapeutic.
    Stay safe and keep making: you’re spreading your courage and we thank you for it 😉

  2. God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

  3. There is something especially beautiful about a sphere but having the spokes makes it more disturbing.In your picture they do look like something from outer space, yet there are plants that send out spores like that. If only there was a way to neutralise the ends of the spines. People are at work. I hope they succeed soon. Best wishes to all.

  4. Crazy way for life to teach us, you know. It is always through an uncomfortable situation we tend to mentally learn and grow the most. I understand it though. For me the circumstance usually leaves a memorable impression of learning. Glad you shared this perspective.

  5. Your making the sculpture of the virus to face and ease your fear reminds me of something. When I was little, I had a recurring nightmare about an octopus kidnapping me. My mother made me a pink octopus out of yarn and told me if I slept with it, I wouldn’t have the dream. My belief in her made it work and having a physical representation of my fear made it seem a lot less scary.
    What a positive and productive way for you to deal with your fear.

    1. Focusing on creating has been helpful for me through these times, yes. Hope you are keeping well.

  6. Love the photo. There are so many things out there we can’t see. Obviously, as of late, We are being shown how real the “invisible” world is! Keep on creating!

  7. My dear alchemist. True influence and inspiration do come in all of mankind’s trial and tribulations. Think of this, without the suffering under the rule of Ouranus, Kronos,Zeus, Oedipus, Midas and of that wretched foul and the protean Minotaur. Do all Grecian pottery would be in service for us all. In Aegyptian monolithic slabs, pyramid and yes pottery. All of it are nothing new to human proprietary love of communication from and to of human frustration of death and immortalization what is called, “remembrance”. In a word of world’s dominant nihilism and it’s evilness, we can survive not because we need such things. It’s how we as artists, writers and craftsman do love that success of trial and errors. We need to improve where we are struggling and keep our eyes fixed not now, to see the project of life that need be. God bless and stay safe always my dear alchemist.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, I hope you are keeping well. There is much to learn and share and ponder during these times.

  8. Keep doing what you’re doing. Your art is your art … and if this is helping you feel empowered and inspired in this difficult time, then you are on the right path. Stay well!

  9. It’s quite brave to take control and create something beautiful out of something so wicked. I’m on the vulnerable list too so understand your concerns. I started working on a Covid 19 piece myself but I have to do it here and there. It’s such a dark subject isn’t it? I do think though, as artists, we have to face these difficult subjects and tackle them and make some sort of sense of them. I think there is something of a responsibility to ourselves and our communities to take the fear and depict what we can of it. If only to show solidarity and hope and that this will be our shared history. Keep on creating!

  10. That’s a very healthy & unique way of facing one ‘s worries brother.

    As long as it helps you, it’s all that matters. Stay safe!

  11. Sometimes just giving voice to our fear is enough to ease it. Perhaps it’s the sharing that does it but I think facing & acknowledging our fear is empowering in & of itself. As part of the ‘vulnerable’ population (81 w/Crohn’s Disease which is an auto-immune disorder) I’m being extra cautious & staying home. I’m lucky that my adult daughter & I live together & she does all the grocery shopping & whatever needs to be done away from home. Not all are so blessed so if you can help someone who is in that vulnerable category, I encourage you to offer. Thank you all for your many kindnesses & support.

    1. Thank you for yours and for your kind comment. I hope you and your daughter are keeping well during these times.

    1. Thank you Astrid, that is very kind of you to say. I think what you have said is wise. Making what we fear tangible means it can be less frightening. I hope you are keeping well.

  12. What a fantastic post… I love process posts and this is one of the best I’ve seen recently. So heartfelt yet clear… and I loved your dark sculpture. I can understand how you would feel fear, I think most of us do, but especially if you’ve had a health scare in the past. What a beautiful way of dealing with it. I’m thinking of you and truly praying for your safety, it would be awful if the world were to lose you, including our little WordPress world. Stay safe, and happy creating. 💛

  13. Globular forms, death, and fear. For some reason, that triggered all sorts of ideas and images that I’m leaving here on the chance they’ll spark you, as well. The visual arts aren’t my realm, so have some words. 🙂

    Sputnik inspired fear, too. I’m not old enough to have been around when it was launched, but I am old enough that my parents told me how afraid people were at the thought of that Soviet…thing up there endlessly beeping and circling.

    Children imagine that bombs are invariably bowling-ball looking things with big, sparking fuses, thanks to cartoons. Rover in The Prisoner and the spheres in the Phantasm movies both bring death in atmospheres of surreal horror. Rover in particular can still spark a good nightmare or three in me, even though I love the show.

    1. Thinking of all those times and their relationship with fear reminds me of this letter written by C.S Lewis in 1948 on the start of the Atomic Age

      “In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

      In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

      This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

      — “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays – https://feld.com/archives/2020/03/wise-words-from-c-s-lewis-in-1948.html

      Hope you are keeping well.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Deborah. that does make sense to me. I hope you are keeping well.

  14. You have a great attitude! We can’t let the virus control our moods. Living in fear is worse than the virus itself. This is our time to step back, re-evaluate, spark our creative senses and set new goals. Stay safe and well and have a great week.

  15. The idea did come across my mind about a month ago to create a painting of the virus but for various reasons I didn’t,. I think it’s what you put into it, that’s how it will vibrate energetically, for those who would see in a negative light any art associated with the virus , it’s best they stay clear of such things for their own sakes, for those who could see or think that everything comes from one supreme source for them it would be ok imo. That’s just my two cents on the matter

    1. “You’ve got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight” – Bruce Cockburn

      Hope you are keeping well.

  16. Posts like this are like a star rising through darkness. I like how you make the most of your time in the midst of a pandemic. Surely you are participating in the healing process by choosing “love” over fear. Or we poets could call it by another name: “passion”.

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comment. That is really beautiful to share with me. I hope you are keeping well, and thank you again.

  17. Great post, I like how you gave the fear a form you can control. Indeed creativity will outlive the virus!

  18. I am pleased that you found it cathartic to make this model, and that it stopped you feeling so afraid. However, I personally feel that it gives the virus power to depict it everywhere, and people should not show images of it on news bulletins and in other places.

  19. How wonderful that you took a dark emotion and created a beautiful object from it. That’s the best of the creative process. Hang in there! Life will be back to normal in a few months.

    1. Thanks Karen. I wish well for everyone and I am so happy to hear that you connected with my work. I hope you are keeping well

    1. Thank you for reading! I am glad I was able to help in some way. I hope you are keeping well.

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