Book of Hours
Behind the Project
Book of Hours I & II consists of nearly 800 small, mixed media paintings on playing cards made between the first lockdown in March 2020 and June 2021. They were produced entirely within the artists’ rural studio near the Suffolk coast.
The paintings began as a simple, short term, creative response to the first Covid Lockdown when the duration and gravity of the pandemic were unknown to any of us. The anxieties and fears in the first Lockdown were mentally as well as physical restrictive for Gilbart; she could no longer work broadly, freely as before. She decided to use the strange lockdown to explore personal interests, curiosities, thoughts & preoccupations randomly, free from any pressures & challenges that she normally imposes on her practice, by working very small. That these image collections grew into first one, then two books reflects the scale and duration of the global crisis.
WHY PLAYING CARDS?
I originally used playing cards to paint on during two residencies at the University of Cambridge and at The Burgess Shale Fdn in BC. The cards represented ‘chance’. The use of playing cards to represent ‘chance’ or ‘lottery’ in the development and spread of the virus became an appropriate metaphor again. Playing cards are also very small in format, so working on them quickly and freely is easier.
Books of Hours II, Hannah Gilbart
HG has always had a preoccupation with the land; particularly its interwoven histories and evolution. It led her to study Geography & Fine Art jointly for her 1st degree. Fine Art awards have enabled her to develop these landscape interests in depth through substantial residencies including in Cyprus, southern Spain, at the University of Cambridge and in British Columbia. These interests led to an extensive painting project completed in 2017 entitled Into the Holloway :a linear work presented as a walk that has also been documented as a film. HG’s most recent projects before lockdown explored Conversations, and concerned key physical locations in her own walking histories and in others.
When lockdown began in March 2020, HG wanted to use the sudden, enforced isolation to overview her practice; to take stock and ground herself again. She therefore let basic instincts lead; following interests and hunches intuitively. There were no preconceptions. Book of Hours I & II were the result and have covered approximately 18 months.