November 2019 (start) – July 2020

Portraits : Nov 2019 (start) – 7 July 2020

“E.M.” 7 July 2020. An amazing young lady. She is 10 years old, and a “young carer”, helping to look after her disabled brother. She talks about this with such spirit, and has great plans for the future!

E.M.“E.M.” 7/7/20

6/7/20  Huge £1.5bn fund put by to support theatres, arts and music industries.
4/7/20  Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers etc. allowed to re-open. “Super Saturday”

“G.R.” 2 July 2020. What an inspiring man! A secondary school maths teacher who cares so much about the students he teaches. He talks about the work he has done with them during lockdown, and of his fears for those who haven’t been able to fully participate. He looks ahead with infectious positivity.

G.R.“G.R.” 2/7/20

27/6/20   Air bridges opened up with Europe.

“N.B.” 11 June 2020. Her very successful and popular restaurant is closed. She talks about the terrible dilemmas she faces about the possibility of ever opening again, and of how to support her staff during these difficult times. She talks frankly and honestly about the options available to her.

N.B.“N.B.” 11/6/20

10/6/20  New Zealand declared completely Covid-19 free.
8/6/20  “Black Lives Matter” Riots everywhere. Statue of Edward Colston torn down in Bristol and thrown into the dock. Other statues being ‘guarded’.

“M.W.” 5 June 2020. A primary school teacher planning for the return of children to the school. Meanwhile, designing home learning packages and worrying about all the children who won’t be able to fully participate and gain benefit from these, for so many complex reasons. A caring and thought-provoking conversation.

M.W.“M.W.” 5/6/20

3/6/20   Residents of Hong Kong offered a “route to Citizenship” in the UK, to escape new Chinese security laws.
1/6/20   Some schools go back. Years 6, 1 and R.

“S.S.” 2 June 2020. On the management team of an important regional theatre. Trying to think of all the different realities of how to re-open and bring live theatre to the community. What will the new reality of theatre look like?

S.S.“S.S.” 2/6/20

30/5/20    Riots all over the US, and in the UK and worldwide in response to George Floyd killing. Black Lives Matter.

“F.D.” 29 May 2020. Lockdown is pretty grim for a boy of 13. No sport, no mates, not even any school. He shares his thoughts on it all. Thoughtful and resigned. Where will he be at the end of this project, in 2030?

F.D.“F.D.” 29/5/20

28/5/20  USA deaths reach 100,000
UK “Test and Trace” mechanism not working very efficiently. Tracers idle at their phones.
Another unarmed black death at the hands of police in USA. GEORGE FLOYD.

“A.H.” 27 May 2020. He has lived through the horrors of COVID-19. He tells his story and pulls no punches. As a superb guitarist, he has transposed a piece of Bach to say thank you to the NHS. Have a listen https://youtu.be/oR05pPT0PVk

A.H.“A.H.” 27/5/20

23/5/20 Dominic Cummings found to have travelled to Durham from London during lockdown. Boris Johnson defends him.
Complex debates about how schools can possibly reopen. Years R, 1 and 6 proposed.

“A.N.” 22 May 2020. Originally from Brazil, and now dedicated in her work with Social Enterprise groups and the voluntary sector, especially in the field of loneliness and isolation. Her work is so important, and she shares her views on what is happening right now.

A.N.“A.N.” 22/5/20

21/5/20 Boris Johnson promises a “world beating” track and trace mechanism to be up and running by 1stJune

“J.R.” 20 May 2020. An immensely special sitting, hearing about the trials of looking after the congregations of three churches remotely, and being there for anyone who needs support. When many of the congregation are older and not tech savvy, it’s difficult.

J.R.“J.R.” 20/5/20

8/5/20     75thanniversary of VE day. No street parties or fetes.
England statement on relaxation of lockdown changes to “Stay Alert” from “Stay Home”.

“K.F.” 7 May 2020. Who knew that beekeepers are classed as key workers? K.F. is so full of knowledge and love for what she does, and what it can offer us all. Having had her own serious health problems recently, she is so thankful for the NHS and all its brilliant staff. She looks to the future with hope and positivity.

K.F.“K.F.” 7/5/20

7/5/20   Over 400,000 items of PPE bought from Turkey found to be unusable.
5/5/20  New infection-tracking app being tested on the Isle of Wight.
Beginning of May. Hestia and Boots offer a safe space for people needing support with domestic abuse.

“E.B.” 30 April 2020. A dedicated young nurse who gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties of caring for patients infected with Covid-19, and talks of her NHS “family” with great affection. She has worked as a specialist nurse in Saudi Arabia and Africa, and almost got trapped abroad when the lockdown started to ripple round the globe, and flights were grounded.

E.B.“E.B.” 30/4/20

end-April 2020. UK passes over the peak for Covid-19 infections

“O.G.” 29 April 2020. Working in a supermarket (for now!), he has witnessed the crazy changes since Covid-19 hit us, and how supermarkets had to adapt in a hurry. He recounts these scenes of panic buying and stress with grace and honesty, and anticipates whatever the future brings. His generation ARE the future.

O.G.“O.G.” 29/4/20

Mid-April 2020. Terrible PPE shortages and inadequacies are the main problem. Also, the predominance of BAME NHS staff dying after infection.
Care homes are becoming hot spots for Covid-19 infection. Boris Johnson recovers, and after a period of rest, takes charge again.

“L.H.” 9 April 2020. What do you do when the rug is pulled out from under you? As a self-employed person, L.H. is suddenly having to face the extremely difficult financial challenges of the shut-down, which are a practical and emotional strain. However, she also celebrates some of the beautiful things that now become more important and more visible. Inspiring!

L.H.“L.H.” 9/4/20

7/4/20  Goes into intensive care.
3/4/20Keir Starmer elected new Labour leader.
Early April 2020. Antibody tests don’t work. Boris Johnson admitted into hospital with Covid-19.

“V.K.” 2 April 2020. V.K. is a French national, settled in the UK. I first approached her as we neared the Brexit deadline, knowing she would have some interesting views.

However, then Coronavirus hit us, and everything has changed. She now talks candidly about her passion for teaching French, and what it has been like working in a near-deserted secondary school, and also trying to teach her classes remotely. Another portrait and conversation made possible by Zoom!

V.K.“V.K.” 2/4/20

Early April 2020. Easyjet grounding all its planes. LoganAir and Virgin Atlantic in trouble. Gatwick closes.
Nightingale Hospital built in 2 weeks, in the Excel Centre in Docklands. Terrible lack of PPE throughout the NHS.

“H.N.” 29 March 2020. Well, who could possibly have thought we’d be in this extraordinary time of chaos when I first started this project, just 5 months ago! I am now doing portraits via Zoom, with the conversations recorded for posterity, as before. These portraits are more gritty, more stark than previous ones, because of the medium.

H.N. was the first, and what a special conversation it was. She is the person you want to be with in a crisis – calm, practical, generous and always optimistic.

H.N.“H.N.” end March 2020

March 2020. A turbulent month across the globe. Everything shutting down. UK goes into total lockdown. Told to “Stay at Home”. Rishi Sunak announces Job Retention Furlough scheme, where government will pay 80% of wages. Parliament suspended.

“R.B.” 12 March 2020. R.B. has seen 100 years, and it was a complete privilege to be able to draw him and listen to his stories. A holder of the French “Legion D’Honneur”, and a very accomplished artist too, he has so many tales to tell.

This was drawn just a couple of days before ‘lockdown’, which would have made it impossible.

R.B.“R.B.” March 2020

11/3/20 Chancellor Rishi Sunak has completely re-written his budget, with £30bn fiscal stimulus to cope with Coronavirus.
10/2/20 UK Government declares Coronavirus as being a “serious and imminent threat to public health”.

Storms Ciara and Dennis wreak desperate damage and flooding over UK, especially in S. Wales.

“C.T.” 19 Feb. 2020. A passionate believer in the value of art in education, and the role of our creative industries.

This was drawn at the same time as the Home Secretary announced the new rules on British visas, and the implications for ‘the low-skilled’.

C.T.“C.T.” Feb. 2020

31 Jan 2020. We officially leave the EU. There is an eerie silence, a sense of resignation from all sides.
27 Jan 2020 China announces that 106 people have died from Coronavirus infection, in Wuhan province.

“P.W.” 16 Jan. 2020. Talking about a life given over to supporting very damaged children takes a great deal of courage.

Right now, everyone is holding their breath, waiting for the end of January when we officially commit to leaving the EU.

P.W.“P.W.” Jan. 2020

December 2019. Boris Johnson wins absolute landslide victory in General Election. He then passes the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, meaning we have to leave on 31 Dec 2020.

“R.P.” Dec. 2019. This was drawn just 2 weeks before the General Election. R.P. is living with pancreatic cancer, and shared a very generous and heartfelt conversation. His lifelong passion for politics and his frustration with the current state of affairs is eloquently expressed.

Later note – “R.P” sadly passed away 29 Feb 2020.

R.P.“R.P.” December 2019

November 2019. Lead up to General Election, both Labour and Conservatives are making ludicrous spending pledges. Wildfires in Australia described as “catastrophic”. Here, terrible flooding in Doncaster and S. Yorkshire.

“K.” Nov. 2019. At 94, the world is a bit of a mystery, and even her past in hard to make sense of most of the time. But there are moments of flowing lucidity, always told with great humour.

K.“K.” November 2019

6/11/19 Boris Johnson calls General Election for 12/12/19.

I am going to start retrospectively.

Back in October 2019 I painted a self portrait. It is, as so many self-portraits are, a very serious version of me, and I cannot get away from the realities of time passing!

This is my starting point for this mammoth project I am calling “WHEN IS NOW?”. As the new decade starts, I am looking ahead 10 years to 2030.

SarahME – self portrait Oct. 2019

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