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Culturally-enriching takeaways from Lockdown – Part 1

Culturally-enriching takeaways from Lockdown – Part 1

Blogger Nina Rennie speaks to some of London’s culture vultures and creatives on how they coped during the COVID-19 lockdown, and what they drew on for inspiration and support.

Sheryl Garratt

“I am so grateful you can buy books digitally. It’s kept me sane! Bernardine Evaristo’s ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ won the Booker Prize in 2019 and is just breathtakingly good. All human life is in this novel, flawed and funny and contradictory and wonderful, as she interweaves the stories. Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy is Marmite: you love it, or you hate it. I loved it, so savoured every bit of the final episode ‘The Mirror & The Light’, a 900-page house brick in hardback.”

“I was gutted to miss so many great art shows, so it was some consolation to see Tate and the Turner Contemporary Gallery video tours of recent shows. But mainly, I’ve been getting my art fix from Talk Art, a podcast in which actor/collector Russell Tovey and the gallerist Robert Diament have relaxed but informative chats with artists and a few other creatives.”

Image: Robert Diament, Russell Tovey and friend. Image credit: Tom Lardner for Plus Agency London

Sheryl Garratt is a writer (former editor of The Face) and a life coach helping creatives get the success they want, making work they love. Find her at:

Sydney Levinson

“During lockdown it’s mainly been the music that’s holding me together. Never previously having been a fan of playlists / set lists I’ve always preferred to wing it but now the push has come to shove so I have been putting together sets of tunes that I have on 7” vinyl and are street legal.”

Check out Quarantine Arts here on Spotify:

Cultural Olympiad and NESTA PEC Industry Champion for the Creative Industries, #TurnerPrize short list by Association, Sydney is a member of the inaugural Capital Appeals Committee of the De La Warr Pavilion and a Visiting Research Fellow attached to ICCE, Goldsmiths, University of London, (where he also sits on the advisory board). Previously served on various boards including the Institute of Contemporary Art. His strategic consultancy “Chats With Sydney” is directed at change management within the creative industries Sydney’s #BarrysLounge has residency at the Market Bar in Ridley Road, with occasional forays into the Lobby Bar at The Ace Hotel in Shoreditch.

Melanie Pritchard

“COVID-19 has disrupted our lives like never before, triggering stress and anxiety across the board from financial, career and home-schooling challenges to accommodation, relationship and health problems. Such unprecedented levels of flux can leave us focusing more on what we’re not doing than what we are. An easy way to tripwire the brain to more positive thinking is to celebrate small wins, whether getting through the morning without snapping at your children, carving out time to do some exercise or learning to say no to activities that increase your stress levels.

“A fun way of marking these successes and making a difference to those in need is investing in ethically sourced fashion pieces and homeware from award-winning brands like Dilli Grey, the ethical lifestyle store whose produce is ethically made in Rajasthan. They’ve also shared 10% of their monthly sales during Covid19 between artisans and food banks in need in Jaipur. Studies show that giving increases happiness levels, so everyone’s a winner.”

(Written by a Dilli fan – check out the dresses at your peril!)

Melanie Pritchard is a success coach and trainer:

Jennifer Ewah

“I’m currently reading ‘Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire’ by Akala. This powerful book – part biography, part polemic – is an exploration of and a debunking of the myth of meritocracy in British society, when analysed through race and history; Akala is a brilliant mind, and a key figure that a politicised generation are looking to.”

Jennifer is also upcycling furniture during the lockdown, explaining that “renewed interest in making old things beautiful, working materials and fabricating by hand is truly, personally uplifting. Rather than buying new, often even without skills or training we can adapt what we already have with just a little creativity and love, embracing sustainability and giving new life to the products that we surround ourselves with in a way that feels more personalised and therefore gratifying.”

Jennifer is a lawyer and social entrepreneur founder of Eden Diodati: