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News from lockdown: Press Play at KOSAR Contemporary

By Emma Gregory

When the first lockdown stole over us I was teaching for Bath College, with a couple of days lined up at UWE, a talk to give at Drawing Projects UK and a term of Press Play to deliver for SPS. My daughter was at school and my husband had a year’s sabbatical lined up. The only thing which continued was Press Play, moving online seamlessly to become the sanest point in my week, a beacon of creativity and support.

This was Press Play’s fourth year. The group had just bonded and oozed focus. I’m not exaggerating. Online, they collaborated on a google document about belief, listened to one another’s worries and learnt how to critique each another without pain.

Lockdown lifted and SPS/Press Play held a short show in the KOSAR Contemporary space. It worked well, probably the best show I’ve been a part of, because everyone turned up with an open mind to install. Work was more or less assembled on the spot whilst one big conversation went on, facilitated by Tash MacVoy. It was joyful: I felt the final show came across as questions instead of answers. The group continues to meet online.

 

With SPS members Henny Burnett and Esmé Clutterbuck I completed a month-long residency at The Garage in Clifton – September. This space is a real opportunity. Run by painter Helen Acklam, the gallery/workshop is gifted to anyone willing to share their experimentation with the public. This has to be committed to at the very start. I didn’t feel the work we collaborated on was as exciting at the end of the month when we presented it, as it had been during the experimentation. We’re going back in December – COVID allowing – to see if we can work out why. Look it up online and get involved.

Press Play hasn’t run in the same way this year – what would have been its fifth. My daughter has been ill and I didn’t have the emotional capacity for both. Besides, it’s a course which requires high levels of trust from the group to work well and was unsure about establishing that entirely online. We’re promoting stand-alone webinars and workshops from January instead – CPD for artists.

Matthew Burrows, who usually visits the course, and whose input was invaluable, began his Artist Pledge on Instagram. Over the summer I bought two of his prints and others by Marcel Hanslaar and Lucy May Schofield; a gooey pastel drawing by Francisco Mendes Moreira; and small paintings by Dan Howard-Birt and Martyn Cross.

I also upped my SPS membership level to FULL. (Clearly trying to spend my way out of crisis). Seriously though, I’m happy to spend money because I feel giving support is critical at this time. Also, I’m grateful to be earning something compiling listings information for quarterly magazine Printmaking Today. So, when things pick up again, and they will, please send me your exhibition info!