City Lit Gallery

Locked-in/Locked-out: Mental Wealth Festival Exhibition

30 September 2021
Posted in: Events, News

— New City Lit Exhibition

  • Locked-in/Locked-out is a new exhibition in the City Lit Gallery
  • The exhibition is part of this year's Mental Wealth Festival (10-15 October 2021)
  • Featuring work from City Lit artists Carina Ciscato & Keith Clapson

The cliché of the lone artist locked in their humble garret is a familiar western trope: part myth, part stereotype.  Maybe there is some truth to it.  However, art is above all a social practice, especially in the interconnected, contemporary world.  Whilst the studio can provide a silent space of solitude to be alone with one’s ideas and creative work, artists more often than not require the company of audiences, assistants, technicians, fellow artists, and friends.  They need spaces of activity; atmospheres of making and doing.  The need to be in the world, and to absorb its events and happenings as fuel and inspiration for their work. 

Social distance. Isolation. Quarantine. Lockdown.

Words and experiences that have become so familiar to us all. We have struggled, but we have also adapted, and adjusted to our separation.  Negotiating change requires creativity.  Whilst restrictions on the one hand put limits on creative practice, it can also provide a pressure to seek out other means of thinking, making, and doing. For many of us – whether we are artists or amateurs – the lockdowns provided space and impetus to draw, make, write, reflect, and express. 

Locked-in/Locked-out features two artists’ response to their own experiences during the past year, and the creative exploration of being locked-in and locked-out. Etymologically, the word ‘isolate’ means ‘to become an island’. Through drawing, collage and photographic practices, artists Carina Ciscato and Keith Clapson explore their respective ‘islands’ during last year’s lockdowns. 

In her mixed-media drawing and collage works, Ciscato provides a record of her experience of a two-week quarantine in a nondescript Heathrow hotel, following a return flight from Brazil. Locked in an unfamiliar room with just a pack of felt tips and the paper bags her daily meals were delivered in, the artist built routine into her day through working creatively, her quarantine practice becoming a diary of her days in isolation. 

Keith Clapson takes us into the outside world through the photographic exploration of London in lockdown; a city transformed overnight from a thriving and chaotic metropolis, to a dystopian landscape of locked doors, shuttered windows, and empty streets.  Clapson’s daily walks through the City provided routine for the artist, and the camera became a lens through which to not only process a familiar space that had become unfamiliar, but as an unexpected means to remain mindful during difficult times.

Each artists’ work reflects their individual navigation of change, the establishing of new routines, and the building of creative structure into a sudden and alien way of living.  Each are first-and-foremost ceramicists, yet when locked out of their usual ways of making and doing, they harnessed what was available to them, demonstrating that in spite of the barriers that are placed around us, boundaries are ultimately porous, and creativity will always find a way through.

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What's your lockdown art story? 

Maybe you used the lockdown to develop or hone a new creative skill, engaged in art to support your wellbeing, or used the experience of isolation to generate a whole new body of work.

Please share your creative lockdown experience with us in our visitors’ book.