My 25 year old son Kallum is learning disabled and autistic. His support network, which has been in place for several years collapsed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result he is in a near constant state of distress. The routines that structure Kallum’s week have disappeared. Familiar faces and places can no longer be seen. Unexpected behaviour from those around us such as clapping on doorsteps breaks the usual social rules and creates sensory overload.

I am therefore focussing my attention on helping Kallum process what is happening and to developing coping mechanisms to get through today, tomorrow and the months to come. We are doing this together through art, more specifically through dialogue, collage and assemblage.

Whilst we are all finding lockdown difficult, for people like Kallum who experience life differently it is proving to be a huge challenge which is adversely affecting his mental health, confidence, independence, and wellbeing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Our artwork conveys, in some small way, the experience of lockdown for Kallum.

 

 

This work has been supported by an Engine Micro Bursary, designed to document artists’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic through new research and making.

 

 

 

A collaboration between Helen Garbett and her son Kallum who is learning disabled and autistic, exploring his experience of lockdown. Supported by an Engine Micro Bursary.

We recently redirected the focus of our next round of Engine Micro Bursaries (a go-and-see resource in previous years) towards evidence gathering around the impact on artists’ livelihoods caused by the Coronavirus outbreak and the unprecedented measures taken to slow the spread of the disease.


We invited artists and arts professionals living in the West Midlands to share experiences of the current situation – case studies and points of view around practice in these exceptional times. The 10 artists selected to receive a Micro Bursary of £250 are:

Dan Auluk

Ania Bas

Helen Garbett

Dion Kitson

… kruse

Taz Lovejoy

Joanne Masding

Demi Nandhra

Adam Neal

Emily Warner

Almost 60 applications were received and the panel were very impressed with the strength and quality of artists’ responses to and stories of the current crisis right across the region. We were by turns moved, saddened and uplifted by what we read and the decisions we had to make were very difficult.

We are grateful to our panel of selectors which included Melanie Pocock, Ikon Gallery; Hannah Taylor, Asylum Art Gallery; Adelaide Bannerman, International Curators Forum; Anne de Charmant, Meadow Arts; John Cussans, University of Worcester; Mike Layward, DASH and Glen Stoker, AirSpace Gallery.

Our website and social media accounts will be places to gather focus points including the impact on studio-based artists, on freelance curatorial activities, on practitioners based in rural contexts, on the student perspective, and on artists and curators who are commonly disadvantaged due to race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and disability.

Each of the 10 artists will be supported to make and research within this unprecedented context. We will be sharing results of their work – be it video, text, audio, drawings, photography or other responses – on our website and social media channels over the next few weeks.

We recently invited artists and arts professionals living in the West Midlands to share experiences of the current situation – case studies and points of view around practice in these exceptional times. We are pleased to announce the 10 artists receiving support via our Engine Micro Bursaries scheme to share their stories.