the art world is just one of the communities that has felt the impact of the coronavirus lockdown. art fairs, exhibitions and tours have been postponed or cancelled, galleries have shut their doors, and artists are faced with the challenge of creating new work under situations of stress and uncertainty.
but we have also seen some incredible stories since the lockdown started, as artists around the world have found ways to raise both money and morale for those who most need it.
banksy, possibly the most recognisable name in the contemporary art world, has been keeping spirits up in a few ways. early in the uk’s lockdown period, he gave his followers a laugh when he bemoaned the fact that he, too, was forced to work from home – and had resorted to creating street art in his bathroom.
the artwork depicted rats going mad with boredom (a sentiment shared by us all at some point during the lockdown.) it was entitled “my wife hates it when i work from home.”
the world-famous artist was by no means finished, as this week he donated a unique original piece of artwork to southhampton general hospital. the original painting is to be displayed and then sold to raise funds for the institution.
the artwork was titled “game changer,” and shows a child playing with a superhero-nurse figure, having discarded the now-irrelevant superheroes batman and spiderman.
banksy is known for his ability to put a finger on public sentiment. this often means capturing a cynical view of institutions with political or financial power. in “game changer,” however, he has captured the overwhelming public appreciation for our frontline workers, in particular the nhs, during the covid-19 crisis.
damien hirst is another rock star of the art world. he has taken a different route to boosting morale and raising much-needed funds.
in a reference to the rainbows that have been placed in windows across the uk to show solidarity and support for nhs workers, he created his own rainbow artwork with his signature butterfly wings.
butterfly rainbow by damien hirst. photograph: © damien hirst and science ltd. all rights reserved, dacs 2020
fans of hirst will be familiar with his butterfly artwork, which is a popular series from the artist. hirst created the artwork as a gift to those who want to print it out and display it in their windows. he will also be releasing a limited edition, which will be sold to raise money for the nhs.
many other artists have sold or auctioned their artworks in order to raise money for healthcare, or groups that have been placed at risk during the crisis. other artists have taken to social media, creating and collaborating within their unprecedented restrictions. their online efforts have helped to bring art and entertainment to those in lockdown, as we all undertake the arduous but crucial task of staying put.
so far, there have been great results in these fundraising and morale-boosting efforts, we trust there will be more to come. while our current attention is rightly on our health workers, and others on the front line, it seems that art definitely has its part to play in the current crisis.