Hamish Pringle: ‘Lockdown – if I can still see, I can see a way out’
4 January, 2021 / by Matt Smith
Images above: Hamish Pringle’s ‘Lockdown – if I can still see, I can see a way out’ series – Photographs by Vivienne Pringle.
Hamish Pringle is a graduate of Wimbledon UAL, where he holds a Masters in Fine Art. Like thousands of other students, his University term was converted to an online-only programme due to COVID-19, which presented a huge challenge. To graduate, Hamish was required to present a body of work for assessment entirely via a website he’d built.
This constraint influenced his degree show, which involved sculptures juxtaposing tree branches with sandpaper Möbius strips. Having the abrasive belts to hand, this led to the first of his self-portraits for his recent work, which is inspired by some all-too-familiar lockdown struggles.
Hamish explains his new artwork below.
Guest blog by Hamish Pringle
This self-portrait series “If I can still see, I can see a way out” was inspired by ‘lockdown’ conditions. Externalising and crystallising my concerns seemed a creative way to come to terms with them.
The first one at top left was inspired by my MFA degree show work featuring sandpaper belts. Wrapping my head in Möbius strips made from a material which is both rough and smooth expressed the conflicts buzzing inside. The resulting image was selected for ‘London Grads Now’ at the Saatchi Gallery and the positive reaction encouraged me to explore the concept further.
The boom in Zoom suppers, WhatsApp groups, and House Parties inspired the second wrapping of my head, this time with mobile phone charging cables. Lockdown has made us increasingly reliant on social media and video calls, in both positive and negative ways.
Quite early on a friend succumbed, suffered badly, but then recovered from the virus. He pointed out we had all become biohazards and that extreme caution was required. This prompted the wrappings with tapes designating danger and fragility.
My brother-in-law is a leading GP and set up one of the first Covid ‘Hot Hubs’. So we have benefitted from a steady stream of expert advice. This reinforced the wearing of face masks as a precaution and suggested this exaggeration in the middle to make the point.
Throughout lockdown there have been multiple examples of red tape, or ironically, lack of it. Local councils have rail-roaded communities with consultation-free traffic systems which have caused chaos.
Government has imposed draconian rules, but often too late, too early, or too inconsistently.
Meanwhile we are being measured as never before. We need to keep our 2 metre distance. We’re confronted by our morbidity as medical triage has gone public. Detailed death data are revealing uncomfortable truths.
I confess that retail therapy has been a solace and, judging by the delivery traffic, I’m not alone. Like many I’m ambivalent about Amazon and hope Government finds a way to tax FAANGs more fairly. On the upside the astonishing service of the likes of Amazon and Ocado, have kept us going through lockdown.
On the downside the huge quantity of packaging that arrives with each delivery is truly depressing and so the series ended with me wrapped in plastic bags. Our son Tristan works for Lasso and we long for the day when their recycling appliance comes to market.
Necessity and lockdown are mothers of invention, as the new vaccines have shown. Let’s hope they wrap up Covid-19 and its successors before too long.
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