Healing through art: Grief in pandemic times

13 October 2022
Charlotte Alldis in front of her artwork ‘Matters of the Heart’

‘Grief is love with nowhere to go, so for me, creating works that embody my experiences and feelings is healing.’

Charlotte Alldis, artist

As we approach the end-of-year festivities and celebration — fully outside of lockdown — we reflect on the feelings and experiences from the past two years that will never leave us.

Last year we commissioned local contemporary artist Charlotte Alldis to create an artwork for us that would embody the feelings that many of our community were experiencing. The work she created, Meet Me at the Crossing, was given to our Centre for Care & Wellbeing. We recently sat down with her to learn more about her art and the role it has in her exploration of grief.

Grief in lockdown

As Victorian residents, we are connected by the shared experience of lengthy lockdowns during the past two years. We each battled the changing conditions and rapidly adapted to life indoors. Many of us are still dealing with the lingering effects and are discovering new ways to process and reflect on our circumstances.

Charlotte has a similar story and reflects on her rediscovery with her art.

‘I found new ways of working and I explored materials that I hadn’t before, and this is probably because we were at home for such a long time,’ she says.

‘I felt that I had the time to paint more often and space to think more about the types of works I was creating.’

‘I created a body of work to process the grief of losing my nana to COVID during lockdown,’ Charlotte says, describing the themes and inspirations for her artwork.

‘I was unable to leave my home during this time to be with my family or to attend my Nana’s funeral. I made a lot of sketches help me process the situation and all the feelings that came up for me.’

'The Way Back Home' oil painting on Tasmanian oak, by artist Charlotte Aldis
Charlotte Alldis’ artwork ‘The Way Back Home’

Expression through art

For Charlotte, the medium of art is a platform to pour feelings into and to explore more challenging and profound thoughts.

‘I have made multiple works that embody grief and find that art helps me to process my feelings in a safe and empowering way.’

Charlotte says, ‘Grief is love with nowhere to go, so for me creating works that embody my experiences and feelings is healing as both a place for me to process but to also share with others.’

‘I feel honoured that my work is displayed so that others can contemplate if they choose to. For me personally, art can connect people no matter how different we might be as people and so I hope that my artwork offers a feeling of connection in the grieving journey.’

Charlotte depicts many ideas and thoughts in her work. ‘I explore through symbolism and motifs, through characters, through expression of materials, through colour palettes and with brushstrokes … the process of painting and making art allows me to explore my inner workings through materials and processes,’ she told us.

'Family', a painting by artist Charlotte Alldis

What’s next?

‘My experience and belief is that art is a powerful tool that can be empowering for anyone, no matter their artistic skill level, to express themselves,’ Charlotte says.

‘Art can be especially useful when words might not feel appropriate or allow someone to explore their experiences in a way that feels safe or resonates closer to who they are.’

‘Making art can be a way of connecting with others or yourself and I feel that connection is a huge part of the healing process, feeling heard and not alone.’

Charlotte has a solo exhibition in Melbourne opening 21 October at Backwoods Gallery and is starting a new job at the DAX Centre.

‘I feel very grateful to make art with others or for myself every day for a living,’ she says.

You can come learn more about Charlotte and her artwork through her website.

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