Art in the Time of Physical Distance: Nina Elliott

May 2020

What book(s) and author(s) are you reading right now and why?

I like to read books relating to personal development, positive psychology, and creativity so have a bunch of books from that world on my nightstand. My most recent purchase though was Crochet with London Kaye, which is all about yarnbombing and written by my idol. I feel as though, if there are books with proper science and clear strategies on how to feel good and achieve your goals, then I want to know about them.

Is there a particular genre of films you find yourself watching?  Or do you have any recommendations of series or movies on a streaming site?

Reality TV is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, so right now I am on the edge of my seat as the 40th season of Survivor wraps up. (Yes, it’s still on and you better believe that it’s better than ever.) In general, I recommend watching content that makes you feel good. In terms of films, movies from the 1980s are always fun for a variety of reasons. Back to the Future anyone?

What music or artist are you listening to right now and why?

I have been quite taken by Reinhardt Buhr recently, he’s a South African, multi-instrumentalist who uses a looper to create world fusion symphonic music. Its super-rad and inspiring, and available on youtube.

Are you able to keep to a routine in terms of your own work?  Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for others who are struggling to work from home right now?

I am one of the few who still has a pretty regular routine as I work as an occupational therapist in hospital Monday to Friday. My major challenge is maintaining energy for creativity after a long day in a stressful environment. The major way I handle that is by keeping my creative work visible. This way I can pick it up for a couple minutes here and there as opposed to having to go and get it when I have a block of uninterrupted time. Truth be told, these small blocks [of time] often end up being longer than expected and that’s quite satisfying. On the flip side, those uninterrupted blocks are hard to find, as I always have my phone and often procrastinate by poking around on social media before grabbing my crochet. So my major advice is to set up your environment so there are as few steps as possible between you and your desired work.

Social media is exploding with daily check-ins, poetry readings, virtual art gallery tours, etc – is there anything in particular you have discovered that has delighted you? 

I am loving the Getty Museum’s challenge to recreate famous art at home, as well as the general creativity I am seeing around sharing art in new ways. For example, Convergence Theatre in Ontario is offering plays over the phone. This interview series is a great example too. What a fabulous way to get to know the artists of our province.

How has food provided a comfort? 

My food world has opened up dramatically since the quarantine started as my husband and I have been experimenting with meat. We were both pescatarians for almost four years, so we’ve been able to return to some old comfort foods and experiment with some new techniques and flavours. It’s been fun and has been providing some much-needed variety during the lockdown. I’m not sure how we’ll move forward in the long term, but for now it’s definitely providing extra comfort, which is appreciated.

Can you describe the physical situation you are in right now – what location, who you are spending this time with.

I live in Twillingate with my husband and our toddler. We are super-fortunate because our son has private, one-on-one care, and both my husband and I are still working so our routines have not been as interrupted as most.

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about being in NL during a global pandemic?

Truth be told I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I feel as if Newfoundlanders are well prepared to handle the challenges that have been arising. For example, we are accustomed to hibernating through the winter months so our homes are equipped with entertainment options, and many Twillingaters have well-stocked root cellars, deep freezes, and pantries. We are also naturally blessed with plenty of open space to roam and a strong conviction that we will get through this.

Any overall words of wisdom to share? 

This is a difficult time but I am striving to use it as an opportunity to be grateful for what I have and to reflect on how I can grow and ultimately contribute to my community as a result. I would encourage others to look out for their own lessons and silver linings as well as possible ways they can help others. Feelings of gratitude and contribution are powerful contributors to our overall sense of well-being, and taking care is of the highest importance right now.

What do you miss the most?

I miss a good, friendly hug!

Nina Elliott is The Rock Vandal. She’s been making yarn-based street art since 2014 and has installed it in nine countries. She just launched Newfoundland’s First Outdoor Art Gallery, which includes eight life-sized yarn bombs affixed to clapboard buildings on a 2-km strip of Twillingate’s Main Street. She believes art should be accessible and that the world is a gallery, and as a result nothing can stop her! In addition to making street art, she is also available for private and corporate commissions.

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