In 2018, the Doncaster based artists Chinwe Russell created a piece of work on the bubonic plague titled the black death, (circa 1300 to 1800) This work was shown at the other art fair in London, an international art exhibition at which she participated.
This artist, known for her historical narrative style, whose work has been exhibited at the Royal academy of arts summer exhibition in London in 2019 never realised that 2 years later, she was going to create another similar piece of work, this time on a similar pandemic, happening in her own lifetime.
The artist says: “When I created the artwork on the bubonic plague, it was for me, just another important piece of history, very very far removed from me. It had nothing to do with me at all. I was really surprised that I would be creating another important piece of work, of a similar nature, but so, so close. A piece of history, happening right now.”
Asked why she created the piece, the artist says,
“I am interested in history, all types of history and most of the work I create are inspired by history. As I watched the coronavirus pandemic unfold all over the world and the subsequent lockdown, I felt It was important to capture this on canvas right now.
Sitting at my lockdown room looking out through the window, the silence that meets the eye is surreal. Within that silence, there is an unseen enemy, an all-powerful enemy who has taken over our streets, making us prisoners in our own homes and foreigners in our own communities. I then decided to document this live history on my canvas, so that posterity will see what it was like for us, from the eyes of an artist. The painting you see is the ramblings of my thoughts on the pandemic, the story of course will be finished by the viewer.”
In a typical Chinwe Russell style, this piece of work is certainly striking, provoking a fascination for the vibrancy and beauty of the colours, yet a revulsion at the same time because of the subject. She has also produced an eerie short video of this work to make it easier to see the details in the work.
The artist is still contemplating the future of this piece of work and where it will end up.