July 19th is so-called ‘freedom day’ in England. It marks the relaxation of COVID restrictions that have been in place since March 2020 when the national lockdown was first announced.
While most people probably expected the end of lockdown to be a relief and a celebration, what has in fact occurred for many people is a lot of uncertainty and a sense of trepidation because as the rules are relaxed (social distancing and mask wearing no longer mandatory) COVID cases in the country are rising everyday. And while deaths have been cut by the vaccination programme, catching COVID isn’t without health risks (especially for the eliderlt and the vulnerable).
During the first National lockdown I started creating little watercolour butterfly paintings each day. Inspired by watching them fluttering from garden to garden while we were being told to stay at home, unable to visit family and loved ones, reminded me that the world was still turning.
The butterflies gave me a sense of hope and painting them each day gave me a sense of purpose, while also being a nice distraction from the pandemic updates. In total I painted 45 butterflies before the first lockdown began to ease. Since then the paintings have been safely tucked away in a drawer.
When news of freedom day was confirmed last week it felt like the perfect time for me to revisit my butterflies. I have always known that I want to frame them but before doing this I wanted to reconnect them with nature and showcase them in the garden where the idea for them had first been inspired.
Although the thought of ‘freedom day’ doesn’t fill me with delight, showcasing the paintings out in nature and giving the lockdown butterflies a moment of freedom felt like a fitting way to mark the day.