Published on Thursday 30 April 2020

Celebrities offered us a charming little Home-rendition of ‘Imagine’; DiCaprio (who I’d gladly vote in as president!) is pitching a trip onto the set of his latest movie in a bid to get millions of people to contribute to #americasfoodfund, and a Filipino Nurse working at Malta’s Ground Zero sent out a heartfelt cover of The Tramp’s ‘Xemx’.

So who will we remember?  Well… Whoever wins Leo’s offer to go on set will definitely remember the outing but I’m pretty sure that the Story of the Bolstering Filipino Nurse will be forever emblazoned in our Hearts.

Artists will not be remembered.  But Art will be. 

The truth is that I felt utterly useless for a while; as an actor, I couldn’t work in my elected Profession. Heading into our second week of lockdown, fear began to set in and I began to question my Drive. Then, after a few intense journaling sessions, I found myself uncannily productive but in an entirely new medium: Writing. My blinkers to the outside ‘nays’ may have been forcefully placed, but they were effective nonetheless.

And yet my artistic contribution was still made to feel utterly puny by the Voices telling me that the work in the new medium was of no benefit to anybody in the now and what they thought I should produce as an actor left me bereft of inspiration; battling ideals of standard and quality. As a result – the Nay-Sayers saw nothing and all work once again ground to a frightful halt. Furthermore, the hours battling the pressure to create something had me wasting precious time that could have otherwise been spent ensuring that my loved ones were taken care of.

So I audibly sighed when I heard other Artists express the same fears.

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.” - Edgar Degas.

Interchange ‘Painting’ with any Art form under the sun.

We’d all heard arguments from laypeople about how little they saw us do; how unworthy ‘I’ was of my status as ‘An Artist’ because I hadn’t taken to the streets to sing a jolly ditty; royalties aside...

But Art, sometimes, exists in a Different Timeline. Although an Artist’s language exists in the now it feeds on the past and challenges the future.

The benefits of the work we did last month or even a decade ago can still be reaped today.  To the Artist who shoulders the Burden of Not Being Enough in these times: allow yourself the permission to continued self-nourishment.

Courage.  Coeur. Curiosité.

It takes Heart and Courage to Create and I Create to Inspire, but that’s certainly not what drives me.  What drives me is that I am inspired first and that I am open and available to receive the Action, that I can then take on and pass on in whatever medium is available at that particular time.  In my case, not much will be seen of me as an Actor until all lockdown restrictions lift, nor will the projects I’ve been so driven by see the light of day, possibly for years to come, but without this period of self-reflection they may never have existed at all. 

And still, the fear wouldn’t abate; neither did the pressure from outsiders.

And then Kris Spiteri, one of Malta’s highly acclaimed Jazz pianists accepted The Djun Challenge to reinterpret their piece “Ħdejk”. He highlighted that he had used it as an exercise in re-harmonization and that it was far from a finished product; just another drill in his continued artistic exploration.

But I was slack-jawed and awed by his contribution.  That was Art in the Making, by an incredible Artist, daring to make ‘mistakes’ along the Journey of discovery.

So…I propose a Curiosity.  As you find yourself in these times of Conflict, where the weight of Action is upon your shoulders, ask yourself this:

Am I Creating for the Sake of Creating?

Must I be ‘challenged’ to work on my Art or am I allotting myself time to Explore?

This is NOT a challenge. It’s just a friendly curiosity about how you’ve kept yourself driven and your skills sharp during these times.

If you have felt stifled – Stop. Breathe. Or pick up some groceries for a family member in quarantine.  Your contributions in these times may not even be ‘Art’ related. And if you’re happy to let us in on the game, great!  But if not, know that even if I don’t see results today, if you continue working on what Drives you in the anonymity of your Home, I am already grateful for the work I will experience when the Curtains rise up again.

"A girl sings from her doorstep to entertain her neighbours watching from their Balconies during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Santa Venera Malta.

Photography by Mark Zammit Cordina.

Words by Erica Muscat.