Crouch End artist's pandemic series inspired by lockdown walks
- Credit: Richard Gardner
Crouch End artist Barbara Hope Steinberg spent the past year creating a series of abstract landscapes in response to the pandemic.
Inspired by her daily outings along The Parkland Walk, the oils which make up In Time of Plague have names such as 'Solstice', 'A Walk in April', and 'The First of Spring'.
All were painted in her garden studio. "A lot of people found lockdown paralysed them, but it was exactly the opposite for me," she says.
"It had a curious effect on me, I started working at the beginning of lockdown almost every day. In many ways it's a continuation of the work I have done foryears - based on landscape, times of day, and times of the year. But the emotional context has dictated and altered what I do. The subject is really the pandemic, it has to be the subject for us all. I don't think any of us could avoid that but I was fortunate I could work in response to it."
While she takes lots of photographs on her daily walks, Steinberg doesn't work from them. "Not in a direct sense. I get the idea of how light, shapes and lines work in the landscape."
"Going over the same places every day, up towards Highgate or down towards Finsbury Park, you see the seasons change, the light and weather. It's these variations that are critically important. Someone once said my work was landscapes that you would see with your eyes shut. It has to be about the way it feels to move through the world right now, and that is inevitably very subjective."
Steinberg has lived in Crouch End since 1976 but first moved to London to study sculpture with Ralph Brown. She later worked with artist and writer Michael Ayrton, then as a writer and illustrator, and has taught sculpture and art history.
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Central St Martin's student Marianna Michael has made a short documentary about Steinberg and In Time of Plague, featuring interviews conducted via Zoom. Available online from May 1, Barbara is glad the work is "out there," but would love an real life exhibition.
"The project moves on because we are not out of this yet. Every once in a while I think I would like to work on something else, but it feels as though I am chained to it some kind of weird purgatory or limbo. Like many people, I don't feel I can make any plans."
Find a preview of the film at https://youtu.be/I4ix1YBqJMw
Or book at ticket to May 1 premiere at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/film-screening-in-conversation-with-barbara-hope-steinberg-tickets-150087227939