Life Lines: Online

Early in 2023 Fife Contemporary made a callout to artists, reaching out to those who were still managing with the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While most others had returned to in-person life and events, continuing with an art practice while shielding, caring or managing health impacts brought a unique set of challenges and adaptations. The brilliant work that many artists were making under these conditions would have been a shame to miss.

From this callout, six artists responded, and came together from across Scotland; Marion Boddy-EvansSasha Saben Callaghan, Kathryn HannaKirsty StevensGosia Walton, and artist duo Matilda Tumim and Chris Prendergast. The range of makers allowed for exciting work, including sculpture, printmaking, painting, drawing, digital illustration and bookmaking. As each of them, along with Fife Contemporary, chatted on regular zoom meetings, a common thread amongst the group was the online space – still an integral tool for connecting, networking and exhibiting, crucially for those still feeling effects of the pandemic. An online exhibition became an obvious format for presenting new work to enter into this discussion.

Illustrative sketch from Tumim and Prendergast

Discussions between the artists often referred to the working title of Life Lines, which seemed fitting as it touched on many aspects of the group; drawing lines and links between each other’s work; connecting online via the network of cables reaching into our homes; managing impacts of a pandemic that had impacted on, and taken, so many lives.

The premise of the exhibition was a celebration of the work that these artists continued to produce in largely home-based contexts. The artists’ work isn’t centered on COVID, in fact most of the artists don’t reference it at all. However, the artists are connected in that their work has adapted, in many remarkable and creative ways, to continued circumstances such as caring responsibilities, extended isolation, limited access to studio facilities and various health issues.

The work of Marion Boddy-Evans adapted to changing circumstances by shifting to a largely paper-based practice that beautifully investigated and interpreted the detail of previously collected pebbles. Sasha Saben Callaghan continued to use digital technology to create photomontages, a mix of ordinary and surreal, that offer glimpses of hope and fantasy for the future.

Kathryn Hanna, Link, 2023. Jesmonite, Activated Copper Pigment
Kathryn Hanna, Link, 2023. Jesmonite, Activated Copper Pigment

For Life Lines, sculptor Kathryn Hanna presented older works alongside a new piece Link, a beautiful jesmonite cast form that references the push and pull of connection and disconnection that we all at times experience. Both artists, Kirsty Stevens and Gosia Walton also turned to paper-based practices, running with the more accessible material and the readiness of drawing. Kirsty Stevens’ layered pieces used MRI scans and radiology reports as an instigator of mark-making – tracking and tracing the affects on her body in stunning black-and-white images. Gosia Walton embraced an A4 format, slowing down her drawing process to create intimate and surreal reflections on her newfound circumstances post-COVID.

The artist duo Matilda Tumim and Chris Pendergast combined their unique illustrative abilities towards development of an art book, ‘The Child Who Heard Too Much’, which cleverly and imaginatively reflects Tumim’s childhood growing up with two deaf siblings – a story written during the pandemic.

Within this exhibition, a particular strand of practice emerged which was really exciting. A more intimate, studio-based practice that was opened up to an audience in an online context. Not only does it provide a behind-the-scenes look into the working spaces of an artist, but we gain so much more rich detail on the processes and narratives behind their artwork.

Marion Boddy-Evans, studio shot

The exhibition opening took place at an accessibly-considered time of 11am, Thursday 26 October 2023. The online format seemed obvious for artists largely based within their homes, and as a recollection of former COVID times. Around 30 guests gathered from their own homes and offices to take a tour around the online showcase. The opening had a distinct camaraderie of six artists coming together under similar conditions, though working together towards a similar end goal. The positive and creative energy they all carried through the project is evident throughout the exhibition and their work.

A recording of the Life Lines Online Exhibition Opening can be found below…

Fife contemporary aims to be as accessible as possible, and hope to provide this recording with British Sign Language interpretation. If you know of any ways in which we can provide BSL within our audiovisual recordings, please do get in touch: