Enduring a pandemic is a new event in everyone’s lives – the Coronavirus has demonstrated how challenging it is to prepare, manage and sustain support during a global crisis. Countries such as New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan and Iceland have demonstrated strength and unity in their leadership – and what are these nations’ one shared trait? They are led by women. Although lots of countries run my men are managing efficiently, it is the decisiveness and sincerity of these women that is helping to control the spread of the dangerous virus. As we continue our lives in lockdown, Copperdollar Studios would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the power of the work women do in our community.
In our new blog series ‘Women & Creativity’, we will be interviewing women from diverse industry backgrounds about the fantastic work they do and how they are coping during the crisis. This series will kickstart with Copperdollar Studios’ very own – Kt Simpson, artistic director and owner of the studios.
Hi Kt, as we enter Week 7 of the UK’s lockdown, how are you managing?
On the whole, very well. I have been grateful for the wonderful weather we have been having. To wake up to sunshine and blue skies is always more inspiring. It encourages me to get outside and walk as part of my daily exercise. I tend to go to the beach early in the morning, as I like to get out before it is too busy and walk the length of the beach.
How do social distancing policies affect your business?
Terribly – we are closed. There is no way around it at the moment. We are a small space, where people have to work in close proximity when they’re creating shows, doing photoshoots or making a film. Keeping people safe is the main priority for us. So we will wait until the government tells us when we are able to open.
Do you think this will permanently affect the arts world?
Definitely for the rest of the year or possibly two! depending on whether they find a cure for the virus. Beyond that, it hard to say. We might have to learn a new way of creating performance etc. Sometimes limitations and challenges bring out more creativity and force us to think in new ways.
In what ways have you been maintaining creativity during this period?
My photographic diary which I have been posting on my Instagram page. This has been a fun mission. Time to look more closely at the environment around me when I am out for a walk. Also documenting some of the activities I have been doing in at home.
After we closed the doors to business, I decided I needed to focus on what I could do rather than worry about what I couldn’t do. So I spent the first month of lockdown concentrating on tasks that I had wanted to do at home that I never had time for. This involved clearing out my attic, reorganising, and sorting. It was an interesting process, lots of positive ‘letting go’, but I feel like it’s lifted a weight off of my shoulders and given me more headspace. I also make sure I go out most days for the allocated daily exercise, getting out of the house, and enjoying this amazing weather we have been having really helps.
How have your creative outlets supported your physical and mental wellbeing?
I did not plan to do the photo diary, I just got inspired when I was out walking. I have always enjoyed walking as a way to process and think (or sometimes not think) about what is going on at the time. Once we had wrapped up the business and looked after the customers, I was almost in a state of shock. Walking has always been a good way for me to stay calm and process things. I found myself taking pictures of all the positive things around me during that overwhelming period at the beginning of the lockdown. Now, this helps to keep me positive. To find the beauty in the simple things, like pebbles on the beach, skyscapes, all the amazing colours of the sea and how much it changes constantly.
Likewise, when I am creating a show, ideas come to me when I walk. I don’t listen to music. I prefer to be in the moment with what ever is going on around me. To see, hear and smell even the enviroment around me.
Have you been learning any new skills over the past month?
Yes! I have learned to be a hairdresser for my family. To make a planter for our decking with my husband. Ventured into the world of a sewing machine mender! With the help of the array of YouTube tutors – discovering the issue and sorting it.
I also answered a callout to make bags for the nurses to put their scrubs in. I had some spare material and an old single duvet cover/pillowcase (which I highly recommend if people are looking for material). I managed to get nine bags out of that. It was nice to feel like I could do something to support those in need.
How would you encourage others to keep a creative mindset during the lockdown?
In my experience, it’s about keeping it simple. We often put too much pressure on ourselves to do lots of things. It’s better to do one thing well and enjoy the process. Otherwise, we get overwhelmed and do not achieve our expectations. I would advise writing down a list of things you want to do that is not about work. Pick one thing off of your list. Keep your tasks small and achievable. Learn new skills and or do practical, tactile tasks. Stop and enjoy nature, take the time to look after your body and create new positive habits. Think about others and be grateful for what we do have rather than focus on what we don’t have.
Stay safe x