Stay Home: Creative Tips and Wellbeing Hints

Your local TWSS gang suggests a few ways to pass the time during quarantine.

Dear TWSS community,

During this weird, whirling time, the situation is such that staying home and apart from others is the best way to keep yourself and others healthy and safe. This is a vital time to show that you care for others, and for social equality; the coronavirus crisis is hitting all people differently and it is so important that we act carefully, and in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable.

As the phrase ‘social-distancing’ has bounced around all corners of the internet, there’s been a huge wave of encouragement to use this time to be ‘productive’; to check off an endless to-do list of ideas you’ve had in the back of your mind (saved for that rainy day that never came).

At TWSS, we felt somewhat uncomfortable about encouraging our community to do the same. As people living under a Capitalist system, its ethos shapes how we conceive ‘time well spent’, validating who we are by how much we do. We didn’t want to play a part in reproducing this, so we encourage you to let yourself slow down. You don’t have to take 7 Masterclasses and learn Italian just because you’re staying indoors.

That being said, nor can we claim that there is a ‘right way’ to challenge the tyranny that is Capitalism. Navigating this time is tough for all of us and taking our mind off the weight of this crisis is really important, too. With this in mind, we thought we’d share some tips and tricks for home-based activities to pass this weird, disjuncture time. Enjoy them at your will, and above all, take care of yourselves.

With love and solidarity,

TWSS x

Arts-ing, Making, Creating

Go online for inspiration. A favourite website of mine is It’s Nice That, where they showcase talent from all artistic disciplines. Plus, they’ve just started doing a weekly brief.

Start a ‘1 a day’ series. You may be familiar with ‘1 second a day’ videos but what about 1 photo or 1 object a day? Everyday objects and the mundane have long been the subject of artist intrigue. Make boring things into something arty! Photograph something that changes every day or doesn’t. What are you sick of looking at? How can you make the same thing look different every day? Play with lighting or angles.

Collage! Collages are quick and easy and you’ll have plenty of things lying around ready to be cut, ripped and pasted. Think old books, papers or magz (not ours!!), tickets, things jammed in your purse or in the back of your phone case. Have a rummage through the recycling bin! Don’t be precious with your materials, and go by instinct. If you still don’t think you have any collage worthy materials then you can always go Henri Matisse style and cut shapes / bodies / leafy patterns out of coloured or painted paper. If you’re looking for a more feminist collage inspiration I can recommend Hannah Hoch, Wangetchi Mutu or Lee Krasner.

Ever tried life drawing? Ask whoever you are quarantined with to take turns modelling. This doesn’t have to mean nude! Why not go the other way and throw on multiple layers of clothes with funky textures and clashing patterns. Life drawing but make it fashion week. If you find the idea of any sort of life drawing daunting, start small by doing a blind drawing (only look at the subject not the paper whilst drawing) to loosen up and help let go of any perfectionism. Then try one with your non-dominant hand, a continuous line drawing or using both hands at once. Set timers and experiment with poses and materials. Still not satisfied? Tear bits off and create a completely new figure.

If you want to ease yourself into the arts and crafts world, using a kit can help be really helpful. There are SO many colouring books and paint by numbers out there, and some gorgeous embroidery kits from independent sellers on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/uk/featured/ideas-for-your-home?ref=primary_hero 

For writing, let yourself loosen up; don’t try to force creativity or productivity. Doing what feels right and reading lots will feed your brain and give you the momentum and inspiration to write.

Wellbeing

Switch your phone off and put it away. Try to just catch up with the essential news only once or twice a day – keeping tabs on the global situation 24/7 is near impossible and isn’t going to help your mind in any way. 

Check in with yourself regularly – make a note of how you’re feeling and try to rationalise any intrusive thoughts. I find that working this through on paper helps to slow down my ever-racing mind, makes the negative feelings less burdensome and helps me to think of solutions. 

If you’re able to or need to get work done, try to set aside specific times to do this and times to have ‘fun’ whether that’s creating, going on your state-approved walk or calling a friend. This can help to keep some sense of normalcy, because in our ‘ordinary’ lives we have planned university classes, societies, sports and socialising. Knowing you have something enjoyable scheduled can motivate you to get your work done too. At the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t manage to stick to your routine – we are in the middle of a pandemic, after all. 

Following from this, try to make your weekends distinct in some way from the weekdays – this can help prevent every day from feeling exactly the same. Try starting your morning a different way, by cooking yourself a more exciting breakfast or having a lie-in.

Listening to podcasts can be a great distraction (just avoid any recent releases on the corona theme) – for insightful interviews try How to Fail with Elizabeth Day and Football, Feminism and Everything in Between; Still Processing for your culture fix; Fucks Given by Come Curious for all things sex and Grown-Up Land for advice about the bewildering pursuit of adulthood.

Thank you to the following contributors:
Domi Rybova, Matilda Blake, Iona Holmes, Delara Youssefian and Rivka Cocker

Artwork by Domi Rybova and Rivka Cocker.

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