Penny Riley-Smith, Glass in Glasshouses

2020 – a Covid Diary in glass

About

When the Covid-19 pandemic reached the UK, things were very strange and fast-moving. I decided to create a month by month record in glass, using colours and symbols as a reminder of how it felt. The diary uses both transparent and opaque glass, because sometimes we knew what was going on, but not always.

Thinking back, 2020 seemed as if it could be a good year, and the door to the future in January shows a flowery optimism. However the virus was already hovering on the edge of our consciousness. In February I was travelling in India, but watching on Facebook as flooding spread in Nidderdale and elsewhere, and the virus crept closer. These two months are art works, but also functional dishes. The UK was generally in good working order.

In March our lives turned upside down. The pieces are no longer functional, but reversed, and March is dark, with the feeling that the virus could be everywhere. At first it was hard for those who were shielding to get groceries delivered, and I was reminded of the story of the village of Eyam, where in 1665 the plague arrived from London in a bale of cloth. To stop it spreading to neighbouring villages, the inhabitants enclosed themselves inside a ring of stones, and nobody went in or out. They drilled holes in the stones and put coins in vinegar in these holes to pay for the supplies brought to them by those outside.

By April it was easier to get supplies from outside, with kind neighbours and organised charities and supermarkets making deliveries, and fewer shortages in the shops. Non-key workers were allowed to go out for a strictly regulated hour a day for exercise or shopping. Key workers kept everything going. May was the height of the ‘clapping for carers’ and rainbows were in the windows of nearly every house. It felt more hopeful, and the virus was more under control.

In June, with the virus in retreat thanks to the efforts of so many people, many took advantage of the easing of the lockdown, and the good weather, to go out more. Some flocked to crowded beaches to enjoy the greater freedom. More shops were opening up, then in July the pubs, restaurants, and many other businesses were allowed, cautiously, to reopen. Despite the illegal raves, and some overcrowding, most people enjoyed the greater relaxation in a sensible way. However the virus was still hovering.

Things look cautiously optimistic in the UK, and I have ideas for how I will represent this month, but won’t record August until we know how it finishes.

May - A Covid diary in glass - Penny Riley-Smith
May - A Covid diary in glass - Penny Riley-Smith

Penny Riley-Smith, Glass in Glasshouses

2020 – a Covid Diary in glass

About

When the Covid-19 pandemic reached the UK, things were very strange and fast-moving. I decided to create a month by month record in glass, using colours and symbols as a reminder of how it felt. The diary uses both transparent and opaque glass, because sometimes we knew what was going on, but not always.

Thinking back, 2020 seemed as if it could be a good year, and the door to the future in January shows a flowery optimism. However the virus was already hovering on the edge of our consciousness. In February I was travelling in India, but watching on Facebook as flooding spread in Nidderdale and elsewhere, and the virus crept closer. These two months are art works, but also functional dishes. The UK was generally in good working order.

In March our lives turned upside down. The pieces are no longer functional, but reversed, and March is dark, with the feeling that the virus could be everywhere. At first it was hard for those who were shielding to get groceries delivered, and I was reminded of the story of the village of Eyam, where in 1665 the plague arrived from London in a bale of cloth. To stop it spreading to neighbouring villages, the inhabitants enclosed themselves inside a ring of stones, and nobody went in or out. They drilled holes in the stones and put coins in vinegar in these holes to pay for the supplies brought to them by those outside.

By April it was easier to get supplies from outside, with kind neighbours and organised charities and supermarkets making deliveries, and fewer shortages in the shops. Non-key workers were allowed to go out for a strictly regulated hour a day for exercise or shopping. Key workers kept everything going. May was the height of the ‘clapping for carers’ and rainbows were in the windows of nearly every house. It felt more hopeful, and the virus was more under control.

In June, with the virus in retreat thanks to the efforts of so many people, many took advantage of the easing of the lockdown, and the good weather, to go out more. Some flocked to crowded beaches to enjoy the greater freedom. More shops were opening up, then in July the pubs, restaurants, and many other businesses were allowed, cautiously, to reopen. Despite the illegal raves, and some overcrowding, most people enjoyed the greater relaxation in a sensible way. However the virus was still hovering.

Things look cautiously optimistic in the UK, and I have ideas for how I will represent this month, but won’t record August until we know how it finishes.

May - A Covid diary in glass - Penny Riley-Smith
May - A Covid diary in glass - Penny Riley-Smith

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