Interview with Jo Peel
In the global Lockdown due to coronavirus, we touched base with our artists and asked them all how they were doing. It was an interesting insight into the lives of artists in a very turbulent time. Artist have different experiences of lockdown, but each met their new normal with good humour and a desire to continue working amid the constraints of lockdown.
How are you doing now?
"I'm doing OK today. It's a strange new world but I'm breaking my days down into smaller pieces. Trying not to worry about the bigger picture is keeping me saner. I like the real world and I like real people, I struggle with online meetings as they don't mean the same as real human interaction."
Whats lockdown like for you?
"I'm super lucky to have a nice house with a garden, also we have great next door neighbours so it's been nice to have someone to talk to over the fence! I've been breaking the day into pieces, working, doing yoga, cooking food, looking after my daughter, cycling and walking. Then hanging out with friends on houseparty and zoom, virtual fun, but unfortunately, the hangover is real! It's unusual. I spend a huge part of my life travelling around to different countries and cities so I suppose that is the biggest shift, staying in one place.
Are you able to work/ where is your studio normally? What's your current set up.
I normally work at my studio in the town centre. I love working there and I love having a separate space to work from - I would usually spend more time at the studio than at home! I've brought a few things back but not very much as I still have a little bit of access to the studio, for now, luckily so I get things as and when I need them rather than bringing everything back - which would be impossible! I currently have it all set up in my bedroom - I feel like a student!"
What projects are you working on now?
"I'm working on the beach house and postcards for Vitamin Sea! As well as a canvas... I've also been finishing a drawing commission, and an installation and video project for Festival of the Mind in Sheffield, a festival run by the University that funds creative projects presenting academic research in a new way. I'm working with Professor Duncan Cameron, a professor of plant and soil biology and we are highlighting issues of food production and waste. It feels like a very apt time to be working on this project and we've had to change some of the research elements but fingers crossed the Festival will still go ahead in September. I'm also working towards a collaborative exhibition (also in September) with artist Mark McClure at the Ben Oakley Gallery in Greenwich
Is lock down / coronavirus having an influence on your work?
Well, everything has been cancelled! I had some major projects planned over the next few months including Glastonbury (sad face) and it's weird just crossing everything off the calendar. Everything is moving online, which I really dislike as I've always been more of a real life person, I use the internet but it leaves me a bit cold. I would much prefer to see an artwork in real life and go to gallery openings and parties to socialise rather than all this commenting and liking. But I'm joining in where I can... I seem to be doing a lot of filming, of myself! I'd like to spend some time on some more film work and some animation."
Which artists/ instagram accounts are you most addicted to now?
"Do you know what? I'm not really a huge fan of any particular Instagram accounts. I use it to share stuff and connect with friends, but I tend to find myself logging in with reasonable frequency for a 30 second mindless scroll and then putting the phone down again. It is a habit I would like to free myself from. On a more positive note, it's a nice place to see what my art friends have been up to, I do genuinely enjoy seeing what people are working on as I would never get around to seeing every artwork/mural painted IRL but I don't want to start naming friends and leave someone out!"
What are you listening to/ reading/ watching when you can?
"I listen to podcasts a lot whilst I'm drawing, there are so many good ones but I love Reply All. It's nice to listen to their Attic and Closet pieces on the lock-down as they inject a bit of humour into some really serious situations and give a nice global perspective. Also, I've been enjoying Adam Buxton, his chats are particularly relatable as he's in the UK.
I've got a huge pile of books that I should be reading, but I haven't been reading much yet - I've been weirdly busy and the days have been going so fast! Patti Smith, 'Year of The Monkey', Max Porter, 'Grief is the thing with feathers' and 'The People in the Trees' by Hanya Yanagihara are up next... Oh, also the book of 24/7 by Jonathan Crary which was hands down my favourite exhibition of the year, if not ever!
I've not been watching that much either but I did watch "Dude, where's my car?" the other night, it's a real classic!"
And anything else you'd like to add!
"Thanks to you guys and all the other galleries for the nice ways you've been supporting us artists through all this!"