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Creating the way through lockdown with supportive art

Published June 26, 2020 1.42pm


A love of art, photography and the desire for a challenge has led two unlikely friends to make creative pieces to combat isolation during lockdown.

Harry Short

Harry with some of the artwork he has made during the challenge

During our The Weardale Tub art project last year, 15-year-old Harry Short attended a glass making workshop at Killhope Lead Mining Museum with his mum, Lindsey.

A keen photographer and artist, Harry is home schooled due to a number of serious complex medical challenges but is passionate about photography and is involved in an art club which he set up in his local area.

While at the workshop at Killhope Lead Mining Museum, organised by the council's Community Arts team, Harry met the project's documentary photographer, local artist Elaine Vizor, and began talking to her about his own photography and art.

Since the workshop, with support from his mum, Harry has kept in contact with Elaine, who also teaches photography at Greenfield Arts in Newton Aycliffe, and the pair talk regularly about their love of creativity.

Combating isolation

However, at the beginning of lockdown, Harry was placed in the 'shielding' category and was worried about being even more isolated than usual when not being able to leave the house during the coronavirus outbreak.

To help combat this, Elaine invited Harry to join her in her 'TWELVE WEEKS' project to create art to represent each week of the initial self-isolation.  For the duration of the project Harry and Elaine have been challenging each other to create a different piece of artwork each week and they share their unique creations with each other.

The duo have now completed 12 weeks of creative art. Harry has created a variety of different pieces of art, from clay sculptures, felting and paintings to drawings, photography and other forms of creative art.

Meanwhile, Elaine has been creating Cyanotype images, using the vintage, cameraless photographic printing process that produces cyan-blue prints, relating to different aspects of lockdown. A further challenge to both Harry and Elaine was to only use resources they had to hand already or saved from the bin as the weeks went on, strictly no buying in of new materials.

Bringing people together

Throughout this difficult period caused by the pandemic, Harry, Lindsey and Elaine have helped each other through some tough times and their art challenge has given them a focus and a connection despite being miles apart.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: "Harry and Elaine's story is a heart-warming example of how creative hobbies like art and photography can bring people together during lockdown. Even though they can't meet, the pair have been able to find something fun to share together and have been able to ease some of the difficulties of being isolated at this time.

"Supporting each other during this pandemic is vitally important for our communities, and also our physical and mental health, especially for those who are vulnerable or shielding during the coronavirus outbreak. I am pleased to see that a project set up by our Community Arts team has played its part in starting Harry and Elaine's friendship which has been able to grow through their support for each other during lockdown and through their shared love of art."

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