Now its Always Six O’Clock, Thinking About Art and Covid -19

About the Image Now its Always Six O’Clock and We Don’t Have Time to Wash Things Between Whiles

Medium: Drypoint on Paper 2016

Image size 56cm x 76cm, (without the frame)

View or buy on the gallery website STALA CONTEMPORARY : https://www.stalacontemporary.com.au/exhibitions/brand/shana-james

This work was originally made for a curated show at Heathcote Gallery in 2016 called: Seven Printmakers Respond to Place, later it won highly commended at the York Art Prize. It’s interesting for me to look at this work again post the Covid-19 pandemic, as it is essentially a work concerned with time. In the story of Alice in Wonderland at the tea party time has stopped. I made this artwork about going on a journey without time. With Covid my usual job teaching adults at the Fremantle Arts Centre stopped, the arts centre was closed and all at once time spread out in front of me in a way that I hadn’t experienced for years. Initially I was worried about money, then wanted to create some online classes to fill the void – both the time and the money. I am also in the final year of a Masters by Research Degree in Visual Art and in retrospect, I feel like I had spent the beginning of the year being spread too thin and rushing from one thing to another.

I started out during the Covid social isolation continuing to busily fill my time, gradually I gave up the idea of the online class, we were coping financially. Time opened up I went for walks, I got creative again. I spent long days either making art or writing for my degree. I spent more time cooking. I slowed down. I relaxed. Like the picture I had created years earlier, I went on a journey without the pressure of time, all be it an internal one. As an artist I am very happy in my own space with my own thoughts, and while I enjoy the company of others, I was surprised that I didn’t mind the isolation at all, in fact I enjoyed it.

Drypoint Image by Shana James “Now it Always Six’Oclock and there is No Time to Wash Things Between Whiles”

Time is an unusual idea, we measure it continually, a minute is a minute, an hour is an hour; so why do some rush by, while others drag on? Interestingly Charles Dodgeson, aka Lewis Carroll Who wrote Alice in Wonderland was preoccupied with the idea- when does the day start and proposed the idea of an international date line. Now we can coordinate times with people all over the world. But what is a journey like without time? I chose a boat for this image because the sea is vast and a boat can travel in any direction, it is not predetermined by where someone else chose to lay down a road.

Most artists (or anyone working in the arts) say that during the creative process time stops and this is certainly my experience.  When I’m working in the studio making an image, time ceases to exist. This phenomenon has been studied, psychologists call it being in a state of flow. This artwork is about the feeling of being in a state of flow, where time has stopped. See how things flow for Alice when time is taken away. As soon as you leave that state however, there is White Rabbit with his pocket watch predicting you’ll be late, and then of course the Queen will probably want to chop your head off. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to keep this level of peacefulness when everything goes back to normal but I really am going to try.