Emlyn writes about the highs and lows of his experience of lockdown and how he has come through it more passionate than ever about about his art.
Emlyn has epilepsy and autism, which sometimes causes him to be nonverbal. He is a passionate and skilled photographer, known for his bold, nature inspired images. His ‘Pigeon’ shot, taken during lockdown, won him our ‘Learning Disability Week’ Photography Competition last month (the image below shows him celebrating the news). We asked him to tell us about his experience of lockdown as an artist.
“I am part of the photography group at Venture Arts so I make artistic photography; my favourite form of photography is black and white. The lockdown stopped a lot of my routines so I haven’t been able to carry out a lot of photography work I usually would. I have been looking more at nature in my back garden, Alexandra Park and even the moon for photo shoots.
I have my own DSLR camera kit and tripod but I really miss the studio sessions and hanging out with other photographers. Zoom has made sessions very accessible but it does have weaknesses – for example, when I lack the energy to interact – it takes a lot out of me.
When Venture Arts started zoom sessions it gave me hope that we were not going to be stuck in this new routine forever, and that we would be back in the studio again. But it’s no surprise that the lockdown has affected my ability to make art and photography, and to access art. For me, as a photographer, the land is my canvas and when you shut parks and National Trust sites you are closing off my life. It was really difficult and I struggled to stay motivated at first.
That was until Venture Arts sent me a new iPad so I could use that one for the zoom session itself and then use my own iPad for communicating with my Proloquo2Go app.
The new iPad gave me so many things – hope, routine, communication! I love it and am so grateful to all those who donated to the appeal! I had my passion back in my life, I started photographing my garden more and the moon – because there were no planes the sky was clearer.
I also got back into painting using old acrylic paint and old canvases. I finally felt happier with all the art in my life. I have even begun planning for the future sessions back at the studio.
This has been one of the hardest times in my life, but I have come through it a stronger person. I have done things I would have never done at any other time, like communicating to people I don’t know through zoom. I see the beauty far deeper in my garden, from the sharp green strands of grass, to the many birds who visit me every day. It has helped me become a better artist and a better photographer.
I still struggle with the bad sides to lockdown, and my epilepsy is worse than usual, but I could be far worse off and I am very grateful. I have the freedom to live as an artist and photographer.”
Emlyn loves to explore the work of other artists. He is currently writing a review piece for a regular slot in our forthcoming Venture Arts newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter here.