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.


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.

Broad Theme


  • Selective Covid events, loose chronology: statistics, govt strategies etc

  • Vultures

  • Skeletons

  • Skull & crossbones

  • Heaven / Hell

UK & International Politics

  • Brexit

  • Black Lives Matter

  • Trump & Covid

  • US election & Storming of Capitol Hill

  • International withdrawal from Afghanistan

  • Africa: polio

Time / Vanitas

  • Candles

  • Hour glasses

  • Butterflies


  • Referencing archaeology

  • Multi-cultural, all ages

  • Animals

Human Figures

  • Human form referencing wide cultural, historical, prehistorical styles.

  • Skeletons

  • Figures dressed, nude.

Archaeology / Ancient World

  • Easter Island Statues

  • Handaxes / Prehistoric sites in UK

  • Rock / Engraved Art / Discovery of Aten / Egypt / Prehistoric objects

Natural World

  • Extinction Rebellion / Climate Crisis

  • Butterflies

  • Birds

  • Flowers: Forget-me-nots / Bluebells / Daffodils / Primroses

  • My Garden: Box topiary / views down beech hedge /



Sax, Southwold, Aldeburgh, Ipswich, Norwich, Felixstowe, Dunwich, Friends of Woodbridge Museum, Museum of East Anglian Life, Moyse’s Hall Museum, Gainsborough’s House. Red House / Britten Pears Arts


British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Christchurch Mansion, Sainsbury Centre (Robert & Lisa Sainsbury Collection).

Local History Goups

Alde Valley Suffolk Family History Group / Aldeburgh and District Local History Society Framlingham & District Local History & Preservation Society

Environment & Heritage

Suffolk Wildlife Trust / Birds of Prey Trust / Hawk and Owl Trust / RSPB: Minsmere, Dingle Marshes, Darsham Marshes / Suffolk Owl Sanctuary / National Trust / English Heritage / Tree Trust UK / Westleton Heath National Nature Reserve / Friends of the Earth / Greenpeace / Essex Suffolk Rivers Trust / Orford Ness National Nature Reserve / Hen Reedbeds

East Anglian Archaeology

Sutton Hoo / Handaxes / Happisburgh AHOB: Ancient Human Occupation in Britain - / Suffolk Archaeology Field Group / Norfolk Archaeological Trust / Waveney Archaeology (Waveney Valley Community Archaeology). Halesworth and District Museum