We spoke to Chantal Oakes, creator of Resident Tourist and Other Stories , a series of videos commissioned for The Living City as part of our exploration of Preston in Lockdown.
Chantal Oakes works as a site-specific creative practitioner using place to inspire and produce creative work with participants and as an independent artist, building physical and virtual pieces to make shows. She focuses on engaging and supporting communities to both make art and enjoy new art. She has lived in Preston for 21 years and worked with museums, libraries, theatres and in community settings throughout the North West.
Q&A with Chantal
What affect, if any, has the lockdown had on your creativity?
Lockdown has been interesting because as someone who has been shielding, I have had the time to really explore some ideas about my practice and to think about how to make new work.
What role do you think art can play in making a city a great place to live, work and play?
Making and appreciating art are both beneficial to a healthy environment as they provide the means for anyone to develop and improve creative thinking, give moments of contemplation and provide everyone with the means, if they want it, to find ways to illuminate their lives and their world.
What have you lost or missed in lockdown?
I have missed travelling to see family and friends, going to see the sea and being able to go to the library.
What have you found, or rediscovered in lockdown?
I have found there has been a softening of relationships between strangers. On my daily walks there has been politeness, smiles and hellos, whereas before Covid-19 ignoring and being ignored by passers-by was much more likely. People have become much more aware of their relationships with other people.
What are your hopes and fears resulting from lockdown personally and for the arts sector?
Having lived through two big recessions and seen how the arts (both commercial and fine art) were side-lined, I am prompted to imagine this will happen again. However, in community settings, art became a tool to raise voices and reveal social issues arising from those recessions. Covid-19 is an unprecedented social and cultural event (at least for the last 100 years) so I cannot predict which way it will go, or even if something new comes up as a result of this pandemic.
To view the entire Resident Tourist series click here.
You can get in touch with Chantal Oakes via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Living City project is produced by They Eat Culture, & supported by the Community Lottery Fund & Arts Council England.