When living in Oxford and struck with a need to get away from the stress of work, one of the loveliest ways to clear your head is to walk around the Ashmolean Museum. However, that is no longer possible – we’ve all been consigned to our homes and uninspiring childhood bedrooms. But the museum has come up with a clever way to keep people engaged, a way to pass the time while we wait for our lives to return to normal.
#IsolationCreations is a project which allows the public to engage creatively with the Ashmolean collection while social distancing. Every day, the Ashmolean share an object from their collection via their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and invite anyone to reply or tag them with their creative responses, whether they be drawings, paintings, poems, interpretative dance, baked goods, or anything else that may come to mind.
The Ashmolean hopes that “by encouraging small moments of creativity in the day, we can help to bring something calm, positive and distracting to the public”. Not only does the project make the museum’s fascinating objects accessible to all of us via our phones or laptops, it opens up a new way for us to engage with both art and the past: the creative process involves reflection, inspiration, and collaboration. It’s a way to focus our minds away from the quiet chaos of the outside world.
In being forced to spend time at home doing absolutely nothing, many of us have felt an anxious need to be busy or to prove our worth by being productive. Engaging with art and culture in such an open and non-critical way can allow us to break out of this anxiety, and to create just because we want to, rather than for any wider purpose.
Cherwell encourages any students who have participated in #IsolationCreations to share their work. We welcome submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org.