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As an art critic in lock down I was seriously lacking my art fix. I would normally visit hundreds of exhibitions in a year so have had to adjust to a new life in isolation. I've pulled together some of my favourite works that also speak to what adjusting to a new lifestyle has been like.
7 artworks


The Great Day of His Wrath
Photo credit: Tate

How bad will it be?

As the seriousness of Covid19 started to hit home I was wondering how bad it was going to get. Now when it comes to apocalyptic visions nobody captures it quite like John Martin - I absolutely loved the exhibition of his work when it was on at Tate Britain.

Thankfully, the rush on toilet paper aside, it's been very manageable on my part.

The Great Day of His Wrath 1851–3
John Martin (1789–1854)


Rain, Steam, and Speed - The Great Western Railway
Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

No more trains

It's rare that I go more than two days without using public transport so lock down was easily the longest time I've spent without hopping on a train and entering Central London in my adult life. I do miss the thrill of heading into London to spend a day viewing art, and this Turner masterpiece truly captures the moment for me.

Rain, Steam, and Speed - The Great Western Railway 1844
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
The National Gallery, London


The Boulevard Montmartre at Night
Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

City lights

Sure the centre of London can be congested and polluted. But it's great to be able to access such a bustling and vibrant city every day and night. I spent many a night in London and I miss the buzz of the city. Whether it be coming back from an event at a gallery, dinner with friends or a night at the theatre. This painting depicts Paris over 100 years ago but it captures that sense of energy that I miss.

The Boulevard Montmartre at Night 1897
Camille Pissarro (1830–1903)
The National Gallery, London


Long Grass with Butterflies
Photo credit: The National Gallery, London

Back to nature

One upside of lock down is I've spent a lot more time exploring my local parks and green spaces. Maybe it's just because I'm noticing it now but it feels like a bumper year for butterflies. As they dance among the flowers, around me and each other it reminds me of Van Gogh's painting. It enchanted me the first time I saw it at The National Gallery and that's why I have a print of it hanging in my flat.

Long Grass with Butterflies 1890
Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)
The National Gallery, London


© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Jersey Heritage


Speaking of nature, I have become an amateur twitcher with now some basic ability to recognise birds by plumage and song. One of the largest birds I often spot are heron as I live near the River Wandle. Even more exotic is a pair of little egrets I spot regularly as well. I've even gone as far as to install a bird feeder to bring some smaller birds to my balcony - something I would have never thought of doing pre-pandemic.

I found this work through searching the Art UK website and it's nice to include some sculpture in my selection.

Malcolm Arbuthnot (1874–1967)
Jersey Heritage


Sandy Shore
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: University of Strathclyde

Back to the sea

While I am a city boy at heart I do love a summer's drive to a sun scorched seaside. I'm hopeful that it will be safe to do later in the summer and I'll get to see something as scenic as this painting I found through searching on Art UK.

Sandy Shore
John Cunningham (1926–1998)
University of Strathclyde


We Are Making a New World
Photo credit: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

What comes next?

The title of this work is meant to be ironic as the sun rises on a war scarred landscape. However, I'm going to interpret it differently as something more hopeful. Yes the world will be different post-pandemic, but whatever it is the sun will rise on it and we will move on. Just as with any other era defining moment. humanity and life moves on. Hopefully to a future filled with art that we can spend time enjoying and being inspired by.

We Are Making a New World 1918
Paul Nash (1889–1946)
IWM (Imperial War Museums)