Stay alert! Do your civic duty! Don’t move on.
Writing under lockdown can feel like trying to thread a broken needle. Adjusting to Covid-19 is a full-time job. This week’s been especially tough. A nation raw with grief confronted by a government intent on rubbing salt into the wound. Somehow, I’ve taken to making proboscises (the nose of a mammal, usually long and mobile) out of cardboard tubes. It looks simple (and it is certainly makeshift) but it’s complex conceptually – I promise.
I sometimes write here about autism and the art sector. Cut adrift from my usual groove I’ve made new contacts and gained a different perspective. How will I write about neuro-inclusion in future? What will the arts be like if/when we emerge safely from lockdown? What will my priorities be? With so much yet unknown, I’m thrown back on myself. Unpeeled is the life before, and once unpeeled it loses some of its stickiness. What was I so adhered to?
I’ve even had a ‘lockdown birthday’ (I love how you can add this word to anything), and I’m coming to terms with ageing. I’ve been feeling absurdly young, I realise. A late diagnosis of autism is probably the cause. I’m a child in woman’s body, not developmentally speaking (I wouldn’t use such language) but rather in the sense that I’ve needed to make a fresh start in life in my 50s. Curiously, lockdown has allowed me to feel my age, and rekindled my love for the window on life autism brings. This pause has been good for me. Life on the outside (I now realise) has been ultimately eroding.
There’s a paradox to navigate. I feel terror. We are living and dying under Tory misrule in the time of Covid-19. I feel released. I’ve found time and space to play – finally.
Autism (for me) gifts a certain sensitivity, and the ability to focus on subjects of interest. Conversely, it is difficult to focus on anything which doesn’t connect in some way to one of my passion projects. This probably makes me good at not ‘moving on’. It’s a useful quality in present circumstances.
My loo roll proboscis marks a moment. Through persistent visual research I’ve arrived at the perfect expression of all the intersecting strands of my practice (past and present). I can’t deconstruct this here, it’s all far too fresh and densely packed. I hope that one day soon I will.
All I can say right now is that (quite perversely), the present uncertainty has enabled me to refine and crystallise aspects of my practice. Am I seeing more clearly because I have more time?
The value of creative resistance in such a moment is incalculable. With my cardboard noses I will stay alert, do my civic duty, and not move on.