Indian Yellow – an exhibition by artist Anthony Bennett, was set to occupy the vast Main Gallery of Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, when the first national lockdown shut the doors. The doors remained closed and behind the scenes preparations for Indian Yellow halted as gallery staff were furloughed. After two waves of Covid-19 and three national lockdowns, Anthony will exhibit his work and new pieces created during a year of Covid restrictions.
Like others, at the start of lockdown, Anthony noticed a change in his perception of things. “In the first days and weeks I noticed how quiet it was. There was hardly any traffic or people about and we could hear the sea very clearly form the house. We normally only hear it at nighttime.
I was a little bit anxious about going out – we didn’t know where this thing was coming from but somehow we got used to it. After a while it became rather dull not seeing people or going out.”
Painting during the pandemic is a solitary occupation but also a place of escape, “once you are working, you aren’t influenced too much by what was happening outside.” For Anthony it was a time spent on exhibition pieces, working with pigments including Paynes grey, rose madder and Indian yellow.
Pre pandemic, Anthony loved visiting exhibitions, going as much as possible. “I love to go to exhibitions and shows and be stimulated by other people’s work – especially when it differs from my own.” Many art galleries offered digital alternatives during lockdown, but it is no substitute for visiting work in a gallery in person. “Last September we visited the Towner Gallery that opened up briefly during lockdowns. I miss going to exhibitions.”
In addition to painting, walking and bee keeping occupied Anthony when restrictions allowed.“We did quite a lot of walking up on the Downs and at Clapham Woods and we keep bees in the back garden.
I’m also a mentor to volunteer beekeepers at Worthing Honey Collective– people who are so enthusiastic about nature and bees. During the pandemic it was a bit difficult to explain to people how we keep the bees and show them the brood when you are standing two metres away. “
We had beehives on top of the swimming pool at Splash Point but had to move them pretty quickly when the pool closed for lockdown. We waited until all the bees had returned to the hive at night and transported them up to a new spot at the leisure centre in Durrington. We hope the bees found their way back to their new home!”
Antony is looking forward to spending more time outdoors. “What I really want to do is get back into the sea as soon as it’s warm. In East Worthing, the beach is usually deserted, it’s very nice. I’m not a very good swimmer, but I like luxuriating in the sea.”