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Life under lockdown: an interview with Gordon Froud

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown in South Africa has had significant impacts on daily life for all of us. Creative Feel caught up with artist Gordon Froud to find out what life under lockdown means to him.

Gordon Froud

Creative Feel: As an artist, curator and Senior Lecturer in Visual Art, the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown has surely had deep impacts on every aspect of your daily life?  
Gordon Froud: For me, it has been an unexpectedly great experience on the whole. I am normally so busy with university, exhibitions, curating and socialising that I often struggle to get time to just be in the studio. This enforced lockdown has given me the opportunity to sort books and materials, make art and write on my PhD without the usual interruptions of everyday life.

CF: As a contributing artist to The Lockdown Collection and curator of the Extension Portfolio, Open Call Portfolio and Student Portfolio, you have played a vital role in raising money for the SA Solidarity Fund and the Vulnerable Artists Fund. What will these portfolios consist of and how will they be used to continue raising funds?  
GF: This has been a monumental task that has humbled all the people involved and highlighted the plight of artists on a normal day, never mind during a pandemic. The first portfolio sold out on The Lockdown Collection auction was conducted by Aspire and it raised around R2 million. The share that goes to vulnerable artists has virtually been handed out, supporting hundreds of needy artists. The second portfolio was from selected artists, the third gleaned from an open call from which we selected work specifically related to the COVID 19 pandemic. The final portfolio is a selected portfolio of works made by Artist Proof Studio and University of Johannesburg students. This is specifically for editions of prints where multiples can be sold. 

CF: What does an average day look like for you under lockdown?  
GF: I believe that routine is quite important. I start my day with 2 sessions of Transcendental and Ohm meditations to get myself centred. Check emails while I make breakfast (something that I seldom get to do in my regular day). Make a list of chores and objectives for the day that may include sorting a section of the library or studio, attending to university commitments, planting winter veggies and, most importantly, making some form of art, be it drawing, digital, sculpture or printmaking. Regular break for teas and lunch and the preparation of a proper cooked meal for dinner. Write on PhD thesis and watch a movie or series or read a book (currently 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami).

The Lockdown Collection Gordon Froud
Gordon Froud’s artworks for The Lockdown Collection

CF: How are you continuing to ‘consume’ the arts? 
GF: I stay in touch with artists and the art world through email, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. I also have a chance to read the many thousands of books in my collection (at last) and through websites and YouTube as suggested by friends and colleagues. I have subscribed to many sites like Saatchi, Colossal, Pinterest and to auction houses. This keeps me fairly up to date.

CF: How are you remaining creative/maintaining your creative output? 
GF: I am fortunate in that I make art for myself to keep my soul alive so am not necessarily driven by sales and deadline (although these help to keep a routine going). I also joined a few groups like the 21-day Quarantine Challenge where we made a work a day for 21 days around a theme or daily prompt and shared this on WhatsApp and Instagram.

CF: What 3 things could you not live without under lockdown? 
GF: My books, music and a studio with art materials galore.

CF: What are you missing most about the outside world? 
GF: My friends, colleagues and students and the ability to walk into a bottle store and buy a decent bottle of wine.

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