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From a lockdown photo to a painting Amelia Marriette & Sky Artist of the Year Contestant Pippa Thew

Lockdown 2020 photograph, left, by Amelia Marriette and right Pippa Thew’s painting Which Way Now, water colour, 2020.

Pippa Thew’s painting Which Way Now, will be exhibited as part of a new exhibition Untitled at 54, The Gallery in Mayfair, London from 9-17th September.

Amelia Marriette on how she came to take the photograph Lockdown 2020

At the end of April, as we began tentatively to come out of lockdown, we knew that once again, we must face the world and start to resume some kind of normality. We live in Austria, and we began our lockdown in early March, and the restrictions in place were severe and seemingly effective. My partner, Katie, sat and made reversible masks of every hue to make us feel less awkward about facing the outside world and to give us some fashion choices. We felt that wearing surgical masks seemed too frightening.

The first morning that we were to venture out, I felt suddenly very afraid. I could not go; I was feeling very vulnerable. My partner, Katie, put on her mask, applied hand gel and went alone to the local supermarket – which is only five minutes from our home. I felt terrible about it, but I just couldn’t face it. Moments after she left, I felt even more lost and lonely. I usually retreat into the garden or go for a walk when I feel stressed – so I let myself out of the back door, the sun was shining, but it was also quite cold. Through the kitchen window, I could see one of the masks that Katie had made. I fetched it and put it on; strangely, it made me feel a little warmer and somehow better. I was wearing my orange mirror-glassed sunglasses; I felt completely safe behind mask and glasses. Using my phone as a mirror, I stood in the pale sunlight and looked at my image. It occurred to me at that moment that this strange thing looking back at me was me and was not me – all my identity stripped a strange microcosmic encapsulation of the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. I flicked to camera mode, and I clicked the button, the first two or three shots were hopeless and unreadable in the way I wanted the image to be. But, suddenly the wind began to blow and as I hung my head down my hair lifted as if wanting to leave my body and escape I clicked one more time and the image was made.

Still feeling lonely, I turned to my friend Social Media and posted the image. A few weeks later a dear friend of ours, Pippa Thew, who is a spectacularly talented artist, and one of the Sky Artist of the Year contestants, asked if she could use my image from which to paint a portrait. I was delighted; because above all her desire to capture the moment in water colour connects us as artists, first and foremost, I am a writer, but as a former curator and a photographer, I also love the visual arts. Her interest shows that art is alive and well. That even a faceless image of someone feeling alone and vulnerable can evoke empathy. I love the way that Pippa has made me seem smaller and more exposed, the way she has painted the reflection of the windows on the lenses of my orange sunglasses – because after all the eyes are the index of the mind; the arch-like striations above my head create a tunnel effect again indicating that we are all entering a period of the unknown.

These strange times, which we must endure, are keeping us apart physically, but the virtual world is allowing us to stay connected, and this is vital if we are to survive this moment in history. Happily, Pippa’s portrait will be exhibited in London in September so will live in the real and not only the virtual world. Sadly, as Austria is once again restricting travel, I will not be able to attend.

Pippa Thew on how she approached the making of her painting Which Way Now

As a fellow creative, I have been friends with Amelia for years and follow what she gets up to on social media! When I saw this image which inspired my painting, I was immediately struck by the sheer power of it. The colours were strong and vibrant, and although I knew that the image was of Amelia, the anonymity of the figure just shrieked out COVID-19 and Lockdown.

Lockdown and the unsettling situation has allowed me to stop and take stock of a whole different way of viewing the world, the emotions I have personally been experiencing and the emotions those around me have been feeling. My creativity has skyrocketed, and I am still working on paintings that express the excess of experiences bombarding from all directions and changing as the Virus develops and alters.

All these paintings are in water colour as I find this a medium I am both comfortable with, and yet I also find challenging, when exploring new techniques to convey my thoughts. All of my paintings are destined as submissions for Societies like the Society of Women Artists, that I hold in particularly high esteem and afterwards to be exhibited in London and here in Devon.

Pippa Thew is exhibiting a selection of her work including Which Way Now, at 54, The Gallery in Mayfair, London from 9-17th September. More information may be found by visiting

A signed, special edition, full-colour (with over 50 original photographs) copy of Amelia Marriette’s book Walking into Alchemy: The Transformative Power of Nature can be purchased for £23.00 with free P+P (UK and EU) directly from the author by visiting

Walking into Alchemy is also available, with black and white photographs, from Amazon Worldwide for £12.00.

For Press and PR enquiries re Walking into Alchemy please contact

@pippa_thew @the.artists.pool @54thegallery @2devon_artist_network @artistoftheyear

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