MY YEAR: Cobalt Studios’ Everyday Art for Extraordinary Times | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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What was the concept behind the project?

The idea was to create an archive of everybody’s everyday art during lockdown. We wanted to  capture the breadth of the creative work that everybody was using their extra time to produce, in many ways it felt like the whole world had a moment for pause and for many people creativity seemed to be a very human instinct to fill the time and find a way to express important stuff.

Why did you think it was an important thing to do?

I think it was important because it gave a real window into the world of many people’s different experiences of lockdown and created visual memory of a very specific historical moment in time. It also gave people a chance to feel connected to a project and for their creative endeavour to have a platform whatever their background – it was important to us that it was open to all and we made no discrimination in what was submitted, if it mattered to somebody enough for them to create it then it mattered to us too.

What sort of response did you have from contributors? Was it mainly professional artists who responded or other people who were inspired?

The response was incredibly broad, ranging from technical animation explorations to a kitchen ballet and somebody who made a kind of floor plan piece of art of his flat and lots of people who documented daily walks. It was real mix of people, some making a living from art, some hobbyists,  a lad doing his GCSEs, and in some cases it felt as though submitting visual art to a project might be an entirely new experience.

What has been your favourite piece of work submitted?

I’m not sure I could choose one – I loved the dancer who did a sequence of dances around a chair in her small backyard, and the single mum at home with two small kids who was still finding time to make photographic images.

What are you hoping to do with the final work?

We are making a limited edition book, it will be a thank you to all contributors and then there will be some spare.

What’s on the cards for 2021 in general for Cobalt?

A lot! We were always building a co-working space on the top floor but as a response to Covid we are now creating additional studios and a small outdoor venue area (subject to planning and licensing) – as Covid continues, these plans are strategic in terms of sustainability and survival. There will be music, arts learning and lots of other creative interactive stuff in some shape or form, we are just working that out now and obviously as the goalposts keep changing there are no easy answers – we’ve got to keep believing that somehow or some way there will be dancing at some point not too far away!

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