Making art in lockdown: ‘go with the flow’

Cordelia Tam is participating in RMIT’s online exhibition The new (ab)normal. Cordelia received her Professional Diploma in Fine Art from Hong Kong Art School in 2017 and completed her Master of Fine Art at RMIT in 2019.  RMIT Culture intern Kate Tranter asked her what it has been like living as an artist lockdown in the normally bustling city of Hong Kong. Here is what she had to say.

What does it look like living as an artist in Hong Kong during this time? Are you finding it challenging?

At the onset of the pandemic, my daily priority was to track down face masks and hand sanitizers as supplies were very limited. Though we didn’t have a mandatory lockdown in the city, everyone was told to avoid social contact and stay home. So, I did not travel to my studio to work and all exhibition plans were put on hold. I had difficulty focusing on my artworks with the infection number going up every day.

Are you keeping yourself busy in lockdown how and where are you doing work where you are living?

I felt safe and could relax at home, but after a short while I realised that my creative momentum was fading away.  I decided to resume work at home to prepare for an upcoming exhibition in July.  Space was limited in my flat and I had to be creative to find suitable ones to work with.  For instance, I placed my works on the flat’s A/C platform for drying as that was the only place with direct access to sunlight.

What’s your everyday lockdown routine can you describe it to us?

Cooking had become an important part of my day as I could no longer eat out.  Before I resumed my work routine, I was attached to the television the rest of day, watching drama series and the newscasts which constantly reminded the serious outbreak in the community.

Are there any aspects as an artist that you enjoy about being lockdown?

I enjoyed the solitude and the feeling of security at home.  The usual crowded streets and fast-paced lifestyle came to a polar opposite.  Though the scene was unnerving, paradoxically I also felt a sense of relief of this empty and slow down.  The lockdown offered a valuable experience to reaffirm my passion for art and the core notion of “go with the flow” in my MFA project can be practiced in my daily life.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice before any of this began what would you say?

I would remind myself the importance of living in the moment.

Cordelia Tam’s website

Story by Kate Tranter, Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations), RMIT WIL internship with RMIT Culture