Three perspectives on 2020: Hannah Fox
Hannah Fox, Freelance Artist
“I grew up in the 1970’s ‘on the road’ with the legendary collective of artists Welfare State International, a wild and evolving band of musicians, performers, dancers, pyrotechnicians, sculptors and writers. We lived in caravans and toured the World making work in communities, creating art and wonder, giving, teaching and usually leaving behind a creative impact in the places we visited.
Since then, for 30 years, I have been a professional freelance Artist undertaking my own work; making films, digital animations, projections, theatre shows, installations and constructions, all in a public context. I am asked into settings; a community, a landscape or a conundrum that needs an artistic response, process and outcome and I utilise whatever art form best suits the idea, the place, the purpose and the budget.
The toad in the road which was Covid 19 and the lockdown months of 2020 was huge and disruptive but in many ways was another set of circumstances that I had to respond to. 30 years of freelancing means I take nothing for granted.
No expectations of work arriving in a particular way or gigs being inevitable. Adaptability, imagination and resilience grown over decades of devising and delivering certainly served me well during the awful months that saw wiped out diary entries of projects that could no longer take place as planned. But from barren pages that briefly stopped me in my tracks, the same projects returned, this time needing to be rethought and reformed for the times we found ourselves in.
I had planned to create an installation and community film at Festival of Thrift, Redcar. Months of work leading to the September event, my build was to be a Cardboard Cinema open to welcoming hundreds of families over 3 days. Instead I created an alternative piece; an animated film accompanying the community choir anthem to open the newly invented digital Festival of Thrift. A project undertaken from my studio and sent via We Transfer.
Due to create a rural touring theatre show with November Club in Northumberland from material developed in 2019 I headed to my studio and instead collaborated with the lead actor over several weeks at a distance of 300 miles. She against green screen and me directing and animating the worlds she existed in. The 5 part film, a hand drawn adventure story of resilience and change, was taken on by several rural primary schools who were supporting children in lockdown in Northumberland.
The Fire Station
Having devised and facilitated workshops for Lakeland Arts across Cumbria early in 2020, in which communities created personal museums from paper, we kept the work safely in storage whilst seeking a new venue to exhibit in. Rather than the original Kendal Art Gallery, now closed to the public, we chose a beautiful unused fire station in Windermere to show the work of 86 makers. “Museum of…” was safely visited by families over a month, one household at a time.
These projects and other digital conference contributions and design jobs meant a busy lockdown which I am very grateful to have had. All this output though relied on experienced producers and commissioners who knew that the work must continue and that artists invariably bring creative solutions to overwhelming obstacles. Fundamentally they trusted me to make good. I am hugely thankful for their trust ** Stella Hall, Cinzia Hardy, Ian Read and Julie Brown**”