Art as a Vaccine

Jan Van Eyck (c. 1390 - 1441), The Ghent Altar Piece - Virgin Mary (detail)

Covid-19 does not appear to be a great respecter of beauty but in a climate where the underfunded culture and arts sector is already under strain, art has risen through to allow us to look forward with a little optimism.  Art has always been a means of reflecting the current zeitgeist and so it has proved to be the case now in times of public crisis.

I was lucky enough to visit the van Eyke exhibition in Ghent before it was prematurely closed and it was easy to see how the brilliance of Renaissance art has not dimmed through the ages. Its message of hope and an everlasting life remains as important now as it was then. Art allows us to view the current crisis through a different lens and the proliferation of memes - some hilarious and others genuinely inspiring,  all transcend social and language barriers and help to make some sense of the chaos when words fail. Rainbows have become a symbol of hope in crisis and various artistic expressions can be seen in windows and painted on stones and walls with uplifting messages to help us remember the values of kindness and compassion that act as a focal point when times are hard.

We have all become used to conducting life online, and enjoying art is no exception. As the London Art Week summer programme approaches we very much look forward to enjoying the best that London has to offer to lift our spirits, but this year, in tune with modern life, it will operate as an online forum. Experts will still be able to give us a new and informed insight into their world, share their scholarly views and provide some respite from the mundane. Until science can provide, join us at London Art Week and let art act as the vaccine.

Hetty Gleave, Hunters LAW LLP