Updated: Sep 26, 2021
There is an ongoing pandemic. In the beginning, I realised how lucky we are here. I felt guilty that I could switch off from what was happening and enjoy our time as a family. This little island had everything we needed and offered us a kind of protection and freedom that people did not have in towns and cities. It felt like this place was all we needed. Sometimes I think that is how life is meant to be, I went days without thinking of much more than my family and our little world, until the outside world crashed back in when looking at the unbelievable images on screens. On the days without technology I could pretend we were in another time. Sometimes I selfishly enjoyed the fact that my family was all mine and mine alone again, like when they were in my stomach or feeding, like we were all we needed, our island, our bubble. That was one thought and it was good but there was a shift at one point and we hugely missed other people. We have a big extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, our friends, my friends that live 'down south'. We were aching for a change of scenery. On a whim, I bought some watercolour paper postcards, I liked the idea of them; the idea of thinking about where we would go and what we would write.
Why do we travel? To experience new things? To spend time with family? To explore, to expand the mind, to relax, bask in sunshine? For the food, drink and culture? What are we missing by simply staying where we are? Anything or nothing at all? Maybe it is more about who we are missing, different people, different stories?
I started to think that maybe I could write the postcards about the place we were in now, the place of the pandemic? What could be written on those postcards? What would we tell folk about this?
I signed, "wish you were here, love Susan,” as is customary.
This watercolour painting on watercolour postcard refers to the anxious butterflies in the stomach I have often felt since the beginning of this pandemic. Using watercolour means the work can be loose and expressive as well as considered or introspective. Working in washes means there is thinking time while allowing the paint to dry. The red paint on the belly of this figure represents the Covid illustration used in news reports. I dropped red paint onto the stomach and it spread and soaked into the paper. I waited for the paint to dry then added more droplets to the paper. With each new application, it seeped into the figure, like the feeling of absorbing bad news.
What is art? Just a painting? And what is the value of art? Can the image be devalued because of its placement? For example, a canvas has connotations of value, of the great masters, of oil and turps and gilded galleries. Whereas an A5 watercolour paper postcard could be seen as having less value. Some people believe that the value of art is not in galleries, the value of art is in the social connections or the political commentary or the questions the art asks...
Postcards as art? What if the value of the art is not in the image or the paper or the paint; what if the value in this art was in the sending? The connections created with other people at a time when connecting was difficult? The art is in the hand written message and the care and thought and love that is sent with the art.
In the end I only sent a handful of the postcards. I recorded the sending with my daughter, she wanted to help, she stuck on the stamps and posted the postcards with me. I got some back, and a hand written letter.
What else could I send? What else could be posted? I could write an address on almost anything...