"Uncharted Territory - March 2020".
Spray & newsprint on canvas. 20" x 24" .
This piece reflects on a month that left us all in fear and disbelief as the Coronavirus, which had ravaged China and spread to mainland Europe, was confirmed to have arrived in Ireland. As it escalated, everyday life was completely disrupted as new regulations and social distancing measures saw the nation head towards a stringent lockdown for the foreseeable future.
While most of us find ourselves in isolation in the familiar surroundings of our home, there is a shared public fear brought about from being in uncharted territory as we worry about the immediate consequences and the long term effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The title is a reference to a phrase which has been repeated by many to describe the situation we find ourselves in. Most notably, perhaps, Leo Vardakar used it as he spoke to the nation on 12th March, the day after the WHO declared a pandemic, to warn of certain deaths in Ireland and announce emergency measures to restrict the spread of the deadly virus.
As the weeks went on, Dr Tony Holohan, the HSE's chief medical officer and government adviser on public health, became the face of our nation's response to the crisis. His almost daily briefings to the nation included the disconcerting figures revealiing the numbers of deaths caused by the virus as well as the confirmed cases in the state. In the context of everything that was happening and with the media flooded with grim headlines relating to the pandemic's effect on almost every aspect of what could be considered ordinary life, Holohan's leadership offered reassurance and provided the public with a map with which to navigate the difficult course.
The newspaper articles selected feature some of the early concerns to the crisis, such as financial impacts, education exams, evictions, employment, and featured in the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo. There is also reference to the UK's initial laissez-faire response to the crisis, represented by the lamentable decision to allow the Cheltenham Festival horse racing festival take place with crowds of over 250,000 attending the 4-day event.
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