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Lockdown Art Stories

Self-Taught Collection by Luz-Maria

Meet Luz-Maria. Luz means “light” and what a ray she is. Originally from Colombia, Luz moved with her husband to the UK in the 1990s. At heart she is a Designer. She spent part of her working life designing and cutting clothes.

When she first arrived in the UK from Columbia, she was struck by how much grey, black and brown people wore. She considered that working in offices, people dressed more conservatively at the time. Everywhere she looked, she still felt the colours were dark and a stark contrast to the colours worn in Columbia.

Thirty (30) years on, she is delighted to see how things have changed. The vibrance of colour that people have welcomed into their lives; The colours of the clothes men and women wear; The colours used to decorate homes; The colours in beautiful gardens all around London. She loves colour and its energising attributes.

A few years ago, Luz discovered Open Age and is grateful she did, when she did. Not long ago she was off to a Spanish Festival in South London with her daughter. A misstep in the station left her on her back. She would later discover she has damaged her back in three places. The pain was excruciating and debilitating. Thankfully, a surgeon from the United States was seeing NHS patients in London and Luz was offered crucial back surgery. She recalls that he promised her she would definitely walk again, but he couldn’t take way all the pain. She accepted.

And that’s what’s remarkable about Luz’s story. She chose to manage her pain, yes with some medication when absolutely needed, but also by immersing herself on art. Not being formally trained, she set herself the challenge to teach herself to create works of art. The results she shares with us.

Thank you Luz-Maria and see you soon!


A Lock of Hair and a Creative Explosion by Theresa Walsh

My Background

I have been painting since 1996; it started after a traumatic marriage. I lost everything and took up art. A friend gave me some of her art products to help me cope.  She was experiencing the same problems and said creativity helped her a lot.  My journey to art began from this point. 

I decided to get some art qualifications, and since then I have been using my art to raise awareness about what is happening to the rain forest. I do this through my painting, sculpting and poetry. 

Last year I was chosen by Artist Grayson Perry, to exhibit some work in the Piano Nobile Art Gallery in Kings Cross. In February 2020 I made Artist of the Month for our organization Outside In. 

Covid 19 lockdown drought 

When I went into lock down I experienced a lot of emotions.  I had concerns for family members overseas, as well as concerns about our present situation in England. 

Due to the shock of going into the lockdown, and the worries related to it. I found it very hard to be creative, I am a creative person. I write poetry, I paint and I am a sculptor. Creative expression is a part of me. I just couldn’t do anything “I lost my mojo” and had no motivation at all. I found the situation quite overwhelming and frustrating, and really didn’t feel like doing anything creative. 

One day I told my daughter that I was going to shave all my hair off.  She offered to trim my hair to give me a new look.  I needed a new look and just felt frustrated by my current circumstances, and needed to do something different. My daughter began to cut my hair, and as she was cutting I noticed a lock of hair on the floor. 

I picked it up and looked at it; my daughter remarked that it could make a good paint brush, by attaching the hair to a stick, and then painting with it.  This is when my Covid 19, creative expression began to happen. 

I began painting with my hair, working with the brush strokes, which led to more paintings and more poetry.  This “mojo” moment brought me out of a very deep creative drought, pulling me out of a place that I was stuck in. I am now working on paintings of my three sons, and looking forward to life returning to normal, as the lockdown lifts. 


‘All in This Together’ Lockdown Sculpture from Upcycled Wood

70-Year-Old Westminster Resident, Mercedes, Creates Large ‘All in This Together’ Lockdown Sculpture from Upcycled Wood

"All in this together" Close up ...

Social distancing and ‘stay at home’ measures have taken their toll on the nation and many people are experiencing feelings of loneliness from self-isolation.

Mercedes Uribe-Gutierrez, an Open Age Member is no different. But she has a coping strategy:

70-year-old Westminster resident and sculpture artist Mercedes Uribe-Gutierrez has created a lockdown art project “big enough to demand attention away from negative thoughts of being socially isolated”.

Mercedes found strength in knowing that although we are all socially distancing alone, we are ‘all in this together’ and wanted to express these feelings through her art installation.

Passionate about creative expression using ‘found objects’, Mercedes has used the back wooden panels of her wardrobe to create little figurine sculptures shaped in the letters of the alphabet.

In total she has created 1426 little relief figurine letters that are around 10cm in height and treated 8 times to form the body language alphabet. It has taken 8 weeks to put together as a striking art installation on her bedroom wall. The full installation is 3 metres wide and 2.5 metres tall.

She has since rearranged more letters to form her own Lockdown poem ‘Where is Everybody Gone?’ which has also featured on a wall in her home.

Mercedes would like to display her art installation free of charge in a hospital, art gallery or museum for a period of time.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up so that members of the public can help in raising funds to turn Mercedes’ art project into a social enterprise. The GoFundMe page can be viewed HERE.

Mercedes Uribe-Gutierrez is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and a retired Art Trainer. Her work has been featured in many successful art exhibitions over the years. In 2016 she was winner of the First London Sustainable Community Award at Chelsea College of Art for her artwork ‘Churchill Gardens Tree’.

For more information visit 

In addition to creating the artwork, Mercedes is now receiving telephone 1-2-1 micro-business sessions from the Women Off to Work (WoW) team at the Abbey Community Association Limited (ACAL), Westminster. She will be setting up a social enterprise to create recycled art from ‘found objects’ in and around Westminster, donating tribute pieces to local surgeries, schools and council buildings. A GoFundMe page has been set to raise funds.

Mercedes Uribe-Gutierrez, ‘All in This Together’ Lockdown Sculpture Creator stated: “I have never had a project that I have loved so much. I created each figurine as individuals, but they’re ‘all in this together’ to create a flow of words into sentences with meaning. It is a representation of us all during lockdown- each of us with individual circumstances but when we collectively all stay at home or offer our skills on the frontline, we are showing that we’re all in this fight together.”  

Sascha Layne, WoW Microbusiness and Self-Employment Development Worker at ACAL commented, “I have found great pleasure in seeing Mercedes transform her creative ideas into striking works of art. I am happy to give her the guidance she needs to use her creative skills to create revenue streams for social good. Her positivity, resilience and strength coupled with her desire to benefit the Westminster community are admirable.”


Working in Partnership

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