It was Saturday the 14th of March when some tourists visited me at my Studio (Toi Hauauru Art Studio & Gallery) and relatives had just called in from a Tangihana, that I considered myself to be in the line of fire of Corona Virus (Covid -19).
Having only been fed info through the media, I realized how serious the virus potentially was, I took the opportunity and closed my Studio – it was time to take a well deserved holiday.
Having told my friends that I was closing shop due to Covid -19 they were all doubtful and questioned my decision. A week later Prime Minister aunty Jacinda announced that the country would go into Lockdown Level 4. It made me feel satisfied that I had made the right decision but then reality had kicked in, the notion of food supplies and necessities, thinking of family members and making sure that my loved ones were ok.
It never really was a big concern or of a threat to my business because we were on a cusp of going into winter which is usually a quieter period for us in business. I work in a variety of mediums which allows me to work on different jobs throughout the year and I still had a lot of commissioned works to be completed.
I see covid-19 and this lockdown as a great opportunity to complete commissioned work and a lot of artistic jobs that have been put on the back burner which had been started years ago. It was like the pressures of deadlines in general had been lifted off my shoulders and it felt great, like a breath of fresh air!
As artists most of the time we are in our own bubbles of creativity so I found myself in isolation whether being at home or being at my Studio.
From a health perspective, being a Ta Moko practitioner I already possessed a lot of health and safety equipment & P.P.E i.e Ta Moko gloves, wipes, hand sanitizers, ISO-propylene for sanitizing surfaces/equipment and being a stone sculptor I already had the best respiratory masks on the market therefore it didn’t create a lot of distress with transitioning into level 4 and all its safety precautions enforced by aunty Jacinda and the Government.
As funny or as strange as things may seem on a positive note it took Covid-19 for me and the rest of our neighborhood to say ‘hello’, acknowledge and meet one another. It took Covid-19 to highlight the imbalances and importance’s of family values, connectivity and to engage in my children & family on a more deeper level. So there we were having fun, cycling, reading, crossfitting, drawing, learning, drumming, singing, playing in the back yard, guitaring, overall engaging with one another, having fun with no stresses and no distractions of work, just 100% of my time with my family which quality time is rare on a normal day for us.
I’m still currently in my creative bubble heading into my studio sculpting and continuing to create stone sculptures under my green gazebo that most people drive past no doubt wandering who that is. Over the last few weeks I’ve had a lot of people inquiring when I will be able to return back to tattooing and I guess for once in my life I was unsure of when I would be tattooing again and the best answer I could say was “as soon as I know, I’ll let you know!
I still feel a lot of uncertainty around how I will be able to operate my business in the future however I’m finding myself hoping for the best outcome. Things have since seemed to have improved as we are looking at going into level 2 and will be returning to tattoing once allowed.
I will continue to sculpt, paint and carve however I have chosen to keep the gallery closed to the public as it’s a great opportunity for me to revamp the gallery space and produce a large quantity of works in different mediums ready to re-open on the 2nd of September. May our community continue to stay safe, stay corona cautious and happy.
Noho ora mai, artist Simon Te Wheoro.