Writing Poetry, Books

A Common Place

In early summer 2020, during the strictest UK lockdown, Eames Gallery in London initiated a special project for their artists to foster connection and creativity during isolation. Gillian was one of 26 writers asked to get involved and was paired with renowned artist, Gail Brodholt.

Due to lockdown, the initial meeting occurred via Zoom, bringing together 58 creatives. After pairing artists and writers, they connected through emails, sharing lockdown experiences and meaningful places. The goal was to find a "common place" and create artwork and poetry about it. Writing was limited to a "sestude," 62 words. These collaborations exceeded expectations, forming friendships, sparking creative partnerships, and yielding touching artworks and poems.

An exhibition of the 29 pairs' work was held in 2020 followed by a book and a beautiful film, Joined Up Thinking.

Gillian was invited to write her origin story for the book.

Gail and I live 500 miles apart. She's in metropolitan East London. I’m in the north of Ireland surrounded by rolling drumlins and a hyperverdant colour palette – the counterpoint to Gail’s normal subject matter. Quite quickly we agreed to explore the theme of solitude through contrast. I addressed it as something familiar and comforting, while Gail depicted Borough Market, not as its normal bustling self, but as a strange and otherworldly empty shell. Life had been so chaotic during lockdown that my body was yearning for peace and contemplation. Near my house, I can make a short journey up a grassy lane, and pass through a rusty old gate towards my favourite egg-shaped hill. There, I can sit in silence, take a breath and enjoy the sometimes-view of the Mourne Mountains. My sestude is a testament to the restorative power of that solitary experience. By emphasising the contrast in our two places, looking for areas of tension and relief, we hoped to find a simple balance.