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LAST WORDS: An Artist in Lockdown
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An Artist in Lockdown

​Unprecedented times lead to unprecedented creativity
隔离中的艺术家——史无前例的时代,必将带来前所未有的想象力
By Gurm

BT 202008 LAST WORDS Gurm 12020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of unexpected changes in people’s lives all over the world. For some it has meant being stranded away from home for months and wondering when they can go back. These unprecedented times of prolonged lockdown have seen people spending more time on their hobbies and exploring new skills.

BT 202008 LAST WORDS CrossroadsFor artist Gurmehar Singh (also known as Gurm) and her family, the story began in February 2020, when the family travelled to India for 10 days to attend two weddings in their extended family, after which they planned to head back home (to Tianjin) to work. But destiny had ordained otherwise. It has now been over six months and counting, and they are still waiting for international flights to resume so that they can return home. Currently living in lockdown in their 100-year-old ancestral home in Amritsar, India, they have seen the seasons change from winter to spring to summer and now to the onset of the monsoon season, yet the homesickness for Tianjin remains constant. Scrolling through photographs of all the moments spent in the city that they grew to love, craving jianbing guozi (煎饼果子), having the urge to call a Didi to go to the riverside for a pleasant stroll or watch a movie at Aeon mall, every day they wonder when they can return to their normal lives and the place they’ve called home for the past 21 years.

BT 202008 LAST WORDS 15 Cantt Throughout the dips and peaks of this challenging period, Gurm has, on the whole, accepted the situation and has been staying positive and productive with her time. She had several events lined up for the spring and summer months in Tianjin and Beijing, but these inevitably got cancelled due to the pandemic, leaving her disappointed momentarily, but not for long. Unfazed, she has been on a prolific roll, creating new artwork and writing poetry. She says: “I think my creativity has become my coping mechanism, my happy place. My family and I still don’t know when we can return to China, so it’s been really tough. I think when I write or draw, I can escape for a while. It helps me accept reality in a way.”

BT 202008 LAST WORDS Gurm 001cHer unique artworks of the past few months, which she calls “The Lockdown Collection”, have been inspired by typical elements found in her family’s large ancestral house, be it the ceilings, floors, ventilator windows, the vast garden, or even her favourite cushion. These days, she has been creating her work based on how she perceives the current situation. This is demonstrated in works such as “Crossroads”, “Miracles”, “Re-emergence”, and “Unity”. She explains: “Currently in lockdown here, and having never stayed here for such a long period of time, I began to notice, observe, and gain a lot of artistic inspiration from things around me that I had taken for granted since my childhood. Since childhood (I visit and stay here every summer), I have always been fascinated by some typical features of this house. No matter where I look, something or the other catches my eye. Another thing that inspires me is that despite all the negativity and horror of this pandemic situation, there are also stories of hope and positivity. I would like my artwork to spread smiles and colour in people’s life during this time.”

BT 202008 LAST WORDS Gurm 2Gurm has been equally prolific in writing poetry during this period. She has penned several poems portraying her thoughts on the current situation. Gurm’s poems such as “Hope”, “Thankful”, “Simple Things”, “Uniqueness” and “Happiness” are heart-warming and relatable and have been well received by readers on social media. They are inspired by her life and carry motivating messages to keep going and cherish one’s blessings despite the difficult times. For Gurm, writing has always been a way to express, and it has become a healthy outlet for her during this time. According to her, “when the words start flowing and the poems form, I am slowly releasing my fears, hopes, happiness, sadness, motivation- whatever emotion I am feeling at that time. As the poem progresses and the emotions are let out, I start feeling calmer. After a poem is complete, I feel refreshed and ready to face reality. I share my poems hoping that they can help people, make every day a little easier like they do for me”. These specimens of written expression complement her artworks from the “Lockdown Collection” beautifully and add another dimension to her artistic expression.

BT 202008 LAST WORDS MiraclesThe young artist believes that “the new normal” has unleashed a wave of creativity in people as never before, and she hopes that it will continue. Be it art, music, dance, writing, cooking, making videos or any other form of creativity, it has seemed to flourish over these past months. “Doing something creative, even for a few minutes a day, is very therapeutic. For me, it has definitely helped to adjust to the changed lifestyle and deal with my homesickness. These days people are discovering ways to find their footing again, re-establish what they have lost, and I certainly think creativity plays a huge role in that. Every form of art created during this year is extremely special, maybe even the best we have ever seen and it will be remembered for years to come”.

BT 202008 LAST WORDS TapestryMeanwhile, artist Gurm looks forward to returning soon to Tianjin, the city she has called “home” for the past 21 years and to the studio that she had set up there a few months before she embarked on her fateful “10-day trip” with her family back in February 2020. Until then, she is determined to continue to stay positive and productive.
 

新冠疫情给全世界人们的生活带来了许多出乎意料的变化,对于某些人来说,这意味着被困在家数月之久。在史无前例的强制隔离状态之下,人们将会开始探索新的技能和兴趣。对于艺术家古尔梅哈尔•辛格(Gurmehar Singh)(或称古尔姆(Gurm))和她的家人来说,故事开始于2020年2月。当时,他们前往了印度参加两次婚礼,然后返回家乡(前往天津)工作。但是命运却另有安排。现在已经过去了六个多月,而且他们仍在等待国际航班恢复,以返回到家。他们目前居住在印度阿姆利则拥有100年历史的祖屋中;冬到春,再到夏,但乡愁始终保持不变。他们怀念在中国天津方便而又便利的生活,每天都想知道何时才能恢复正常。这篇文章介绍了古尔姆如何在隔离之中寻找艺术灵感,写下了各种各样的诗歌。同样的故事应该在世界各地不断重演,每个人都可以成为隔离中的艺术家。

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