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JOURNAL FROM THE CITY

London: What a crazy time to be alive, eh?

“Journal from the City” is a report on the city by Chignitta contributors around the world.
In this issue, we will look back again at the “lockdown” caused by COVID-19 which we first faced in the spring of 2020, from each city.

It was January 2020, just as there were whispers of a virus outbreak in China, and we were still freely enjoying our nightlife. One night, at the MILK BAR in Shinsaibashi, I met Terry, who was traveling to Japan from London. I honestly don’t remember what we talked about (sorry Terry!), but I’m sure we hit it off and had a great time. The next day, we met in Minamihorie and then again in Tokyo. I said, “I’ll see you in London! and immediately after returning home, the UK went into lockdown. A creative director, Terry’s stay-home record in London.(Junko Sasanuki)

Terry Mckeown

A creative director and founder of SeeThrough, a Creative studio based in London unveiling exciting work with a thoughtful and transparent approach.  website: SeeThroughStudio

■What a crazy time to be alive, eh?
As of March 2020, London went into lockdown. I’ve often wondered what the city might look like without all the people, all the tourists, abandoned and eerie like that of a horror movie. Yet, this where we found ourselves. I’m sure it’s the same for everyone, but this is something I’d never expected to experience in my lifetime, and I know how it has affected many people’s lives and I hope everyone stays safe and healthy through these times.

For myself, I’d been working from home for the last 3 years, so my life wasn’t turned completely upside down. But I did find new problems that I needed to change and adapt to order to find the correct balance once again. A few of my clients began to delay or cancel projects that led me to have more free time than I otherwise would have. Which can either be a gift or a curse depending on what you choose to do with it.

An empty street

“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” – Aristotle

■ Hello, neighbours.
I live with my girlfriend in a small apartment in North London without any outdoor space and previously this hadn’t really mattered to us. In fact, we’d not even considered it, as we have a huge park just up the road, so it’s wasn’t really necessary. But through lockdown, this lack of a personal garden or balcony became a very apparent need in order to connect to nature or strengthen our minds through this process and ongoing media panic.

London during lockdown was not as strict as other countries in regards to how long we could spend outside, but the lack of shops, restaurants, pubs and removing our ability to plan the future still had a deep impact on us all. This was our new normal now. So, we began to plan what we could, influence what we can influence, carve a new way in this world. From weekly food menus to movie nights on Fridays, gave us the structure were we lacking and also something to look forward to. Time moved slowly and became less relevant, so we wanted to make the most of what we were given.

We removed the latches on our window, which opened up a whole new balcony for us where I spent most of my time learning French and daydreaming in the sun. It was from here that I learnt the names of all my neighbours and got to know my community better. Friends often came to visit us and we’d chat from the window with either a beer or cup of tea depending on the time of day.

In the first weeks of lockdown, my days became filled with Yoga, painting, and illustrating. I felt an urgent need to learn more, do more, and be more productive which became extreme and probably a little unhealthy. Understanding and finding a new balance takes time and it took me a while to learn that it’s ok to do nothing. Actually, rest is just as important to the creative process as thinking and doing is.

chatting with a neoghbour

a connection path to ourdoor

■ Creativity during Quarantine
I believe that this pandemic has created lots of positive moments, depending on where you stand and how you’ve been affected. The world has been forced to reset and it’s allowed for people to stop and think about their lives and where they were going within it. Allowing for new paths and new opportunities that may have taken longer to get to. For me, I’ve worked on some wonderful projects through quarantine most of which have been for non-profits or self-initiated movements. One of the first things I contributed towards, was a simple poster submission for designersagainstcorona which are supporting the current climate and raising funds for the Italian red cross. Various illustrations and artists contributed to this which is now becoming a Book that is sold via the red cross to support their activities against covid-19.
Our poster was in response to a brief: “After Covid”. When it suddenly feels like the world is spinning in the wrong direction, we want to say you can still make changes for the better, even if everything shifts around you too. “The world has changed, will you? “

The poster Teri created – “The world has changed, will you? “

I’m also working on a new record label launch which has brought up some really interesting ways of working. I can’t disclose too much information at this time as this project is very much ongoing, but I’d love to share a short insight into its creation. Due to COVID-19 and not being able to work together, we had to think out of the box and make things happen. How can we approach things differently? This thinking led us to create a makeshift photo studio in my bedroom, with a laptop, a hanging black blanket, and a photographer via zoom in the dark. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the art direction which turned out better than I had imagined. A new way of working was born and it’s the same philosophy from which the record label was built upon.

A new way of working

Sneak peek of a new artwork

■Illustrations through “Eye-Isolation”
I found myself drawn to vases and other vessels like objects, I guess being locked in had a subconscious effect on me of feeling trapped. I began putting eyes into all sorts of images playing with the idea of seeing through and isolation. Removing our ability to social distance is apparent through my latest work as I often reference social pastimes like smoking and drinking with friends. It’s funny looking back now (September) and seeing the things I’ve created. A real fragment of time. Some of these illustrations be bought from the Goodstore in Bristol or online via seethroughstudio.com

Illustration through eye-solation

■Together Apart
Contacted by @anima.london A London agency to help out one of many businesses that had been hugely affected by the pandemic, The Genesis, a local independent cinema in East London. The film industry had been hit hard due to the lockdown and their aim was to connect local artists and transform the ugly & functional social distancing signage into a positive and creative expression to help bring us all together. These kinds of community projects that bring everyone together for the greater good is what creativity is all about. Even the mayor of London gave them a shoutout for their forward-thinking.

Although work is beginning to pick up again now, there is one other project that has just been finished in time before submitting this journal.

The writer and his created social distancing signage

social distancing signages the writer created

■ Seeing Things – A Series of Parallels by Cass Beck
Like myself, my partner also worked on an amazing project that would not have been possible without the time we were given thanks to the pandemic. In short, this all began by travelling in our minds, looking back at old photos and wishing how she could travel again. But due to lockdown of course, these were all but memories and dreams. But in this thought, a new idea was born, a book. She began seeing the various parallels between the photographs she had taken over the course of the last decade and started to pair them together. These were either visual similarities or conceptual in the way that images can be perceived together. 
This process took a good few months and I helped out with the overall design of the book. I’m very proud of what she has achieved in this time and again, it’s something we can both look back to during this period and feel good about. All in all, it’s always worth bringing your ideas into the world, no matter how wild or weird, once time has passed, it’s in these moments you can reflect upon.

Seeing Things @CassBeck

Photography by @CassBeck

Like everyone I’m not sure how this all ends, but wherever you are, stay safe and I hope this journal might act as either an insight into how we can change our world without letting it change us or just a little distraction from what’s going on.

Thanks for reading
Terry

The writer

Credits:
Photography by @CassBeck
Illustrations by @SeeThroughstudio
PR photography by @justinpolkey
Agency: @anima.london
Shop: www.thediysupermarket.co.uk/
Covid project: www.designersagainstcoronavirus.com/

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