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  • Jan Bastow

Same Sea, Different Boat: A Collaboration Story

January 2020, and so much to look forward to - printmaking with friends at South Hill Park, meetings to plan forthcoming exhibitions, gallery visits, then BAM!! March 2020 saw a total lockdown across the UK because of the Covid 19 virus which became a global pandemic. We were unable to see friends and family, our lives were restricted in so many ways. Zoom was a blessing to keep up face to face communication, but the camaraderie of working together and inspiring each other was not able to happen.

Into this bleak landscape came the opportunity to work on an exciting collaborative project which provided a stimulus at a time when we were isolated.

The project was called ‘Same Sea, Different Boat: Isolation Stories in Lockdown’. It was the brainchild of artist-printmaker, Sue Brown, and textile artists Louise Asher and Liske Johnson.

Applying on Sue Brown’s Instagram (sb.brown21) and following the banner's progress, participants were asked to produce a collagraph plate measuring 10cm x 10cm showing aspects of their life in lockdown. These ‘plates’ were posted to Sue who then printed them out onto fabric using her etching press before posting them back to be embellished with stitching.

My first collagraph was of a bee on our cotoneaster hedge. It comes alive with bees in the early summer and almost seems a moving carpet of bees. Sitting in our garden on sunny days, I took great pleasure just watching their activity and it has remained a strong image in my mind from the first lockdown.

Above are the collagraph plate, the returned print on fabric and embellished final piece.

I produced a second collagraph inspired by a friend’s tale of a stone she had found whilst walking along the beach. It had the legend’ Hope’ on it, and I thought this summed up our global predicament.

It was interesting to see the development of the banners. So many people participated (including a couple of other Print at the Park members) that the number of banners grew. In the initial stages, 200 collagraph plates came from all over the world; a truly collaborative project.

Sue’s crow image became a leitmotiv throughout the banners. Five banners were in exhibition at The Museum in the Park, Stroud, until December 2020, then Salisbury Arts Centre, Wiltshire, in January 2021, then the Harley Gallery, Nottingham, from March to June 2021.

To date, there are eight banners and work is still coming in providing a mammoth task for the organisers to print, return and then sew the banners. Fingers crossed for further UK exhibitions. this is a heart warming project which united us and which provides a permanent social record of this strange time.

Images from ‘WOWbook’ number six (pages 56-63)

Published by d4daisy Books Ltd ISBN 978-1-8382451-0-8

Sue Brown (workshops and blogs)

Louise Asher (workshops)

Liske Johnson (workshops and courses)

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