In March 2020, on the day Cosmati Floor and Wax Fruit was due to open, Huxley-Parlour gallery closed its doors to visitors as part of the UK’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. The exhibition was to be Ella Walker’s first UK solo exhibition, and included seven large scale works, hung against a fresco-like backdrop of a large-scale site-specific mural completed by the artist.
After three months of lockdown in the UK, Walker revisited the work in the gallery. Here she reflects on the exhibition, her works and how her practice has changed during these unprecedented times.
’My practice involves painting in a myriad of media to create imagery inspired by medieval and early modern costume and iconography which relates to my own personal feelings and dreamscapes. The process of painting for my recent exhibition Cosmati Floor and Wax Fruit is tantamount to my experience in the daily ritual of painting and dreaming. I’ve been thinking a lot about, as many of us have, the impact of the current pandemic. Specifically, I’ve had conversations with friends who have all shared sentiments of angst and worry. Something about what we are experiencing now is different, a slowed period which feels almost apocalyptic and dreamlike especially when I think about it in relation to my show Cosmati Floor and Wax Fruit which was closed to the public whilst also existing in the gallery. The fear of not knowing when this period would be over and the mental stress of staying indoors whilst people are risking their lives to care for others is a sentiment shared by many of us.
Through the duration of the exhibition I found myself trying to process the time we are now in and reflect on the work which stood quietly and unobserved in the gallery. In this moment of self-isolation and social distancing and- without not only the supply of canvas, but also without the possibility of visiting much loved friends and museums in London– I found myself revisiting paintings in the exhibition through sketching and small painted studies on paper. I feel grateful that I could use this moment as an opportunity to challenge myself and dive deeper into my exploration of abstraction, colour, and allegory. The daily ritual of painting offers a look into my internal world and has contributed to my psychological wellbeing in my search for meaning in the practice of painting’
(By Ella Walker)