On a dark, chilly morning last week, I swung my legs out of bed and caught an image coming up on my Google Hub’s slideshow. The Hub has always been flicking up a variety of prints since I plugged it in. Wallpaper until that moment. A stormy seascape image with movement and drama caught my attention. Perhaps it was the churning feelings of starting another working week in the confines of lockdown with the rough seas of COVID outside. The image was of a painting. An oil painting with all the mood of a Turner yet looked sharper in tone. Always quick to ‘Google’ and after a bit of digging around, I found the painting and artist – Edward Moran.
I then hurried down an enjoyable rabbit hole of 19th Century American art, drawn to what I felt was the elemental moods captured at that time in oil. As a lover of the outdoors, the elemental mood draws me in. I forgot my to-do list for a moment and filled my mind with the energy of exploration and discovery.
The vast majority of Edward Moran paintings show scenes of shipwrecks and storms. Powerful scenes that emphasise the struggle between man and nature. I reflected on these scenes with their white-tipped waves, brooding clouds and labouring ships. The current storm in our lives whipped up by the easterly winds of COVID has created our white-topped waves and shipwrecks.
One of Edward Moran’s painting stood out in all the drama – ‘Life Saving Patrol’, shown here and painted in c.1893. Set at night, the sky and the sea below appear relatively calm. The dramatic scale of the lifeguard against the moonlit water suggests a balance of power between the ocean and the brave souls who risk their lives to rescue its victims. I started to think about our brave key worker men and women who are helping to keep us safe from storm COVID and for all those who are helping us stay off the rocks as the four walls of COVID put enormous pressure on our mental health. Stay home seems to be the message of the era. I would encourage you to patrol the mental shores of your colleagues, friends and family to help them stay off the rocks and sandbanks as we continue to navigate the waters of lockdown.