• Naseem Syed

'A Brave Face' by Savanna Dumelow


I am an exhibitions assistant and freelancer. I'm a nerd.

Has lockdown changed you? How? Why?

Before lockdown I was already quite introverted, which has increased along with my anxiety. Lockdown gave me the time to heal a lot of things, physical and mentally, so I guess I feel I've emerged out of 2020 feeling better than at the start of it. It's been really difficult as I live with my nan and see my mum often, so the fear of killing someone I love by slipping up on the rules, meant that I have been extremely isolated, mainly through my own doing. I have become very paranoid. It also changed my attitude towards conflict and my family, as my health started to improve it had a positive impact on my relationships with people, mainly my nan. We don't argue as much and we understand each other better now. I had days where I felt absolutely fine and then everything would hit me at once and I would find myself crying until I was exhausted. I worked extreme amounts to try and combat the way I was feeling which led to burn out. Thankfully I am surrounded by wonderful people in work and at home. I think in the future I will grab every opportunity to be happy and remember how far I've come.

What made you smile or brought you joy in lockdown? Can you explain it?

Art, in every form. Movies, games, books etc. I had time to catch up on things I had missed. Creating my own artwork and learning new skills! Getting dressed up to sit on the sofa on zoom with my friends, who are all over the world. challenging myself and really making a go of my freelance work. My work family who kept me smiling and were there for me on tough days.

But mainly my family, my nan, my stepdad and my mum, who is ever a positive thinker. Throughout all of the issues I've faced, I know it will be okay because she tells me it will be and if it's hard, she'll be there in an instant for me. We've laughed and cried, like most people I'm sure.

Oh and also Animal Crossing, that game was my calm happy place!

Have you changed since lockdown? Tell me why.

I'm calmer, I would like to say I have more patience but I don't think my mum and nan would agree... I have gained a greater respect for myself and my boundaries. I'm more confident in my career and abilities. I'm ready to move forward where as last year I felt mentally and physically stuck in the past. Lockdown has given me the time I really unconsciously needed.

What is the story behind your hand art?

I made this piece of art in one very emotionally fuelled night after things just got on top of me. I scanned my hands in as I've recently been working on alternative ways to create photos without a camera. The mask symbolises how I've hidden my emotions, feelings and sometimes my opinions and problems from everyone. But behind the mask the tears show how I've actually felt when alone. To everyone else I was doing fine, coping like anyone else in a pandemic.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Be kind, we all wear a variety of masks, no one knows what's going on underneath.

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