During a global pandemic, it can be hard to maintain a positive outlook on life, but many people across the globe have found ways to do just that. An ex-pat kiwi living in Spain found that creating art helped her deal with the stress created by that country’s long lockdown.
Every day during the lockdown, Sandi Goodwin created paintings and drawings that documented both her own experience and those of her friends. Now, she is sharing those pieces in a new book titled Lockdown – a collection of drawings by Sandi Goodwin.
The book is available in hard copy (limited numbers) or as a digital book that you can purchase by clicking here.
Here is a Q&A Andrew Whiteside had with Sandi via email. It details the book, her experiences during the Spanish lockdown, and her love of Spain:
Why did you start drawing from day one?
The week before the actual lockdown I was talking to someone who had recently got married. She and her husband had started working from home. She said to me ” Sandi, We haven’t been married long and we haven’t spent much time together I’m not sure if we will come out of this as a married couple or a divorced couple!!!” AND so the characters were born. On day one I started to develop the characters and their stories. I only had a computer paper because all the shops had closed. All of the drawings are on computer paper, using a pencil and watercolour.
My couple starts off really excited to be working at home: no more alarm clocks, no more traveling in rush hour. It all sounded so wonderful but as time goes on ……!
How did the paintings help you during the lockdown?
They saved me from going crazy. They gave me a reason to get up every morning. They made me laugh and uplifted me.
Why did you want to create a book from these drawings?
I did one to three drawings every day during the lockdown. Some were stories friends shared with me, some of my own experiences, and some I invented. I posted them daily on Instagram and Facebook.
People started following them daily and commenting. I soon realised how important they had become in people’s lives and how they looked forward to seeing them. I didn’t want the drawings and stories to get lost because I saw them as part of our history, so the only way I could do that was to put them into a book.
From a personal perspective, what has it been like living under strict lockdown – how has it affected you and the people around you?
At the beginning of the lockdown, we were told it would be for two weeks but we all knew it would be longer. It seemed to happen so quickly. I remember it was a Saturday. There was some confusion about when it was going to start and for some reason, we thought it was on Monday and had time to organise things.
My partner had to drive on the motorway that day. She couldn’t understand why there were signs saying “ go home”.
We woke up the next day to empty streets and police helicopters. Supermarkets were open but only one person was allowed out to go shopping. People with dogs were allowed out to walk their dogs. We were not allowed out to just walk or to exercise. Children had to stay indoors. No children to be seen or heard anywhere – it was so surreal.
It felt like we had been transported into some kind of sci-fi movie. It just didn’t feel real.
As the weeks went by and it became obvious that we were in for the long haul, my drawings became even more important to me. Some of my friends who lived alone found it really difficult. And it was very hard not to be able to go outside and see the sky, or walk through the park, feel the grass and see the trees.
Our only exercise was to go to the supermarket. We would take turns to go and take the long route. We were only allowed to walk within a kilometre, so we walked in circles with our shopping trolley.
Every night at 8 pm, we clapped for the nurses, doctors, and hospital staff. This became a highlight of our day. It was so wonderful to hear people clapping and cheering. Some people played music and waved flags out of their windows. It was an important time because it made us feel we were not alone.
As we moved through the different phases coming out of lockdown, I always remember the first day the children were allowed out. We all stood on our balconies and watched. It was so emotional to hear their laughter after such a long time of silence. Later we were allowed out to walk but at allocated times only. Walking in the park bought up a mixture of feelings. It felt amazing and yet scary.
We hadn’t walked further than the supermarket for so long or been amongst other people apart from shoppers. We could still only go one kilometre from home. Police cars patrolled the parks making sure we didn’t break the rules. People started creating their own rules – walking up on the right and down of the left so we’re all walking in the same direction. If you were looking down from a height it must have looked like a scene out of One flew over the Cuckoos Nest!!!
You taught yourself to paint – when did that journey begin?
I started drawing about 40 years ago when I was living in New Zealand. I was going through a difficult time and drawing and painting helped me cope. I saw it as a hobby and never thought it would become so important in my life.
What challenges did you encounter in learning?
When we left New Zealand and went to live in London I started to paint more seriously. I always doubted my ability because I hadn’t been to art school. My partner was always so supportive and encouraging and made me realise I had something worth developing.
Being back in Europe we started going to wonderful art galleries and exhibitions. I began to relate to abstract artists and discovered my passion. It was like a light went on inside me and for the first time, I really understood how much art meant to me and where I wanted to go with it.
I was beginning to feel confident with my art and, for the first time was able to say the words “I am an abstract artist”, something I found hard to believe. I was out with a group one day. Some had studied at quite prestigious schools. One person said to me, “unless you have been to art school you cannot call yourself an artist”. Those words cut through me like a knife and all of my self – doubt came rushing back.
My partner, my son, and my friends were so supportive and helped me through this period. It turned out to be a glitch and as hard as it was, I turned myself around, regained my confidence, and decided to put everything into developing my art.
What inspires you and how do you decide what you want to create?
People ask me this all the time. When I start to paint I really have no idea where it is going to take me. I love colour and texture. I never title my work. I leave that to others to interpret. I love listening to my friends’ interpretations at dinner parties.
Why did you and your partner choose Valencia as a place to live?
We came to Valencia originally with our two friends from New Zealand. We always loved Spain and had talked about living here for a long time. We chose Valencia originally because of the America’s Cup. My friend Jonathan and I were event managers and talked about the possibility of getting work with the New Zealand boat. But we couldn’t speak a word of Spanish and realised quickly that we didn’t stand a chance. My partner and I fell in love with Valencia and although we were living in London at the time, we visited regularly. Each time we left, it became harder so eventually, we decided to move here permanently and have never looked back.
What is it about Spain you love?
I love the weather, the food, culture, and traditions. I love the friendliness and kindness of the Spanish people. I love the way older people are accepted, not hidden away and children are welcomed everywhere. I love the landscape and the diversity of the different regions. I love the fact that whenever I visit a new town or city there will be an old part of town that takes me back in time. I love the easiness of living here and being in Europe. Even though we are living through difficult times, I still feel so happy to be here.
You are a UK citizen – how has Brexit affected you, and what are your fears or thoughts about the future regarding Brexit and your life in Spain?
Brexit has been a nightmare for us. It has caused so much pain and anguish for so many. In Britain it’s created such division between families and friends and created new waves of hatred –it breaks my heart.
There are still a lot of unknowns but I should be ok to stay. To have our freedom of movement removed is awful. I don’t think some people realise just how this is going to impact on their lives and not in a good way
How has living in Spain changed your life, or impacted your view of life?
When I first visited Spain, I think I was about 17 years old. I felt a real connection with the place. My partner and I did a big trip around Spain and Portugal about 20 years ago and we both felt the same love for the place and talked about living here one day.
Coming here has been the right move. It has launched me as an artist and given me the confidence to change my life. When I first left New Zealand I grieved for my friends and what I had left behind. I found it very difficult living in London again but since settling in Spain, it has all fallen into place. I absolutely love living here. It brings my creativity to life.
I would especially like to thank Celine from the Love Yourself Project for helping me launch my website and my book.
Sandi Goodwin is an abstract artist who was born in the UK, and also lived in New Zealand for 27 years. She is a self-taught artist whose works have been exhibited in various communities in Spain including the Sara Caso Art Gallery in Madrid. Many of her illustrations have been published in the Huffington Post.
As well as her art, Sandi has produced theatre and dance productions. She currently lives in the city of Valencia in Spain with her partner Margaret.
Lockdown – a collection of drawings by Sandi Goodwin is available in hard copy (limited numbers) or as a digital book that you can purchase by clicking here.