In October, 2021, I was invited, with others of the Packington Square Area in Islington, London to create art for the Packington Art Gallery in November of the same year, they wanted any work depicting the Covid-19 season that the whole world was just surviving from together. I happily said yes to taking part and started giving some thought on what I would contribute.
One day when I was rummaging through my bedside table looking for something, one mask after the other got in my way, as I placed each one on my bed out of the way, making room to find the object I was keenly searching for (can’t remember at all what it was!), the idea of using the masks for my subject matter came flooding to me, how could I use the flags to commemorate such a strange time of; lock down, each person having to keep 2 feet a part, not being able to visit love ones and go to your favourite cafe’s!?
The idea of joining the masks together and then creating a flag, a real one that could be lifted high on a flag pole and blow in the wind started to tease my mind. I did one or two sketches and was sold on the idea. I then ran the idea by the gallery owners who were equally excited and I got on with making it.
I bought all the materials needed, set everything out on my dining table and played around with how to join each mask together, it looked bulky, messy and silly, then I started to pin each flag together and it began to take form, I pinned a whole patch of masks and new that sewing it was the best option. So that’s what I did for hours! over 100 masks, sewed, listened to the TV, had a break, slept and continued to sew until it was completed.
I also had to create a solid strong base to hold the flag and golden flag pole I had purchased from Amazon. I still had bags of plaster of paris from another project I was working on, so used this with gravel to set the pole in the base of a heavy wooden crate purchased for the job, I decorated the base with fake grass and leaves and used fake poppy’s as a reminder of the hundreds of thousands of people who had lost their lives due to Covid.
I wheeled the completed flag and base over to the gallery around the corner (the lifts were out of order! so had to carry the very heavy base down 9 flights of stairs with the help of my then fiance) we wheeled it across to the gallery, and with instructions from the gallery curator Anna, set her down in a spot outside of the gallery and returned home.
There’s nothing deep or intelligent about the finished product…it marks a period in time, that without these insignificant face masks, many more of us would have lost our lives. Our Emblem.