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Pandemic Experience Through the Lens of Artists in China

When much of the world was still coming to terms with life in the time of COVID-19, May marked the first time since the beginning of COVID-19’s outbreak that China saw a significant relaxing of the nation-wide lockdown. With minimal new infections on a day-to-day basis, and before the more recent increases in cases, citizens started to make a cautious but welcome return to normality.

How had artists been affected by the period of lockdown that, for many, lasted almost three months from January’s Chinese New Year and saw citizens housebound, shutdown of transportation in some areas and the closing of businesses?

We spoke to both local and foreign artists who call China their home, to see how they coped and adapted to the lockdown, the effect on their work as artists, and their thoughts about art in a post-pandemic world.

Paul James is a UK graphic designer, illustrator and painter who has been living in Wuhan, the epicentre of COVID-19 in China, for the last 7 years. Of the almost 300 members of the ‘Brits in Wuhan’ WeChat group, Paul was one of just four who decided not to leave Wuhan on a UK government chartered flight, and saw the lockdown through in the university campus where he lives and teaches.