The C19 Project
Hydrogel, Oil - 35x25x8cm, 2020
The C-19 Project is at once a memorial, a record, and an exploration of certain aspects of the crisis. The aim was to each day paint every person to pass away from the virus in the U.K. It ran from the 21st of March to November and the piece contains over 50000 hand painted figures, in line with official numbers at the time.
There are 3 different colours applied uniformly because were it monochrome the work would form an indistinguishable mass and the people should be seen as individuals, but not differentiated into demographics. The colours themselves are those associated with face masks and PPE, which seem to be the defining imagery of the crisis. The project began in an almost reactionary fashion. Death tolls from other countries were being cited, and the count here in the U.K. was growing, but I wanted to see the figures in those numbers; to show that each digit was a very real human tragedy, and not just part of an abstract total from somewhere “other.”
With strict discipline of production and the almost performative/time-based nature of its creation the work began to ask questions of itself, and viewer response stepped in to form its identity. How people were using the work and what they were finding through it was quite unexpected and led to new ways of thinking. To many it became an almost mindful outlet, a focal point for their grief thus easing the day to day struggles they experienced.