The post-lockdown trip that changed squares & things for the better
You’re on the beach, warm to the bone, you’ve just ordered a second Aperol Spritz and the turquoise sea - just metres from your feet - is twinkling at you.
What a dream! This is my favourite scenario and a state of being that I aspire to be living everyday and is the feeling that has influenced all of my work but particularly my most recent sculpture collection. Instagram allows me to talk a lot and share my ideas and inspiration behind my pieces but I wanted a different space that allowed me to bombard you with images, ramblings and memories from my holidays, walks in the park and anything that has fuelled so much of the why behind squares & things.
In July, my partner and I hopped on a plane with about 200 other mask wearing passengers to his hometown of Nice (oui, I’m trés lucky). We’ve made this trip every summer for the past 5 years but of course this time was a little different. With Corona doing its rounds through Europe and news headlines updating every minute claiming France and Spain were next on the no fly list - I felt like how Ben Affleck and co must have felt on that plane at the end of the film, Argo (or of course, the real life event).
I was looking forward to all the sun-drenched moments that this post-lockdown getaway would afford me but NONE were as important as the first Aperol Spritz I would be ordering. Next to coffee, this is a sacred moment, (close friends understand this about me) and like a persistent tap on the shoulder, I would anxiously remind Victor that this was all I wanted out of the trip. However basic you may deem this drink, it's only here to give you a good time, whether thats a cheap and strong version on a sweaty European holiday or overpriced in a London pub garden. But let me bring you back to France - specifically Senequier bar.
Looking out over St. Tropez harbour, arms awkwardly spread over the glossy red arms of the chair, trying to touch as little as possible (remember the rona) I felt like this was going to be my Aperol moment. I was sat with my boyfriend and his two sisters who had nabbed us a table right at the front of the bar so we could people watch. I could write a whole book on people watching at this bar but I’ll go back to that. ‘Uhh pour moi, un Aperol Spritz please’ I bleated at the waiter, pleased to put my £10 an hour French lessons over lockdown to important use. Victor, less impressed corrected me and ordered a beer, or I should say ‘beeeyehh’. We waited for our drinks in a calm silence, occasionally nudging each other to look a certain way, when another billionaire pulled in on his yatch or an American family of six all wearing matching sandals walked by - you do you though hun, whatever gets all the kids out the door.
My view was blocked when the waiter came back with my GOBLET of Aperol, the condensation unpleasantly dripping over my bare (tanned!) legs. 3+ months of lockdown life flashed before my eyes, the TV dinners, banana breading and mundane home workouts were all a thing of the past - the moment was here. I craned my neck to reach the straw, and took a sip deep from the belly of the glass to get straight to the strong stuff. I slumped back and looked over at Victor who smiled and simply said, 'happy?' Oui Victor, je suis happy. Within minutes, the feeling in my legs went and I let myself succumb to the wonderful dizziness that was washing over me. I took stock of this moment, as someone who has anxiety built into them, I find it difficult to remain present but present I was. I was so happy, giddy, appreciating the small act of a drink made by someone else and enjoying it surrounded by the murmur of French conversation, the sharp tang of the alcohol going straight to my head. The simplicity of pining for one thing and then getting that thing.
Are you wondering how this story/holiday is relevant to squares & things? Bear with me, I'm getting there, as in the coming days I would receive an email telling me that one of my oil pastel drawing submissions had been accepted into the Green & Stone Gallery Summer 2020 Exhibition. I was standing by the pool when I found out, a big grin giving away the news - Carla (Victor's sister) was waiting excitedly with me. For context, Green & Stone was where I bought my first set of art supplies to set up squares & things with. A haven of a shop, this was my happy place, where I could amble through the aisles of oil pastels or sit on the floor, flicking through drawers of papyrus or Khadi paper. So to be accepted into their Summer exhibition was the purest form of validation, I felt like I had come full circle and I was... proud... of me!
I was getting a taste of where I could take squares & things and the confidence boost of the exhibition really kickstarted the process. I realised that it was up to me to take squares & things by the reigns and steer it in the direction I wanted. Literally no one else was going to do it for me. With my job (modelling) being affected by the virus measures, I recognised s&t as something I could control and nourish.
The exhibition and a combination of warm mornings spent in French cafes sipping bitter coffee, pouring through design magazines, with a calm and open mind dreaming of the possibilities for squares & things set me up mentally for the months of August and September, which saw me get to work on my first sculpture prototypes and consequently apply for A South London Makers Market.
The rest is history really, If you're reading this you might have found me because of the market or you're a friend who I've forced to read this. Either way, all of this is to say that lockdown and 2020 were a bitch but some magic sparkly stuff happened too. The magic sparkly stuff being hard work and the realisation that it's up to me to be my own cheerleader, metaphorically handing out leaflets of myself to anyone that will listen.
I hope you all now know how seriously I take Aperol Spritz's too.
What a brilliant story!
Ps I too observe the sacred ritual of first coffee. I’m such a tragic some nights as I’m getting off to sleep I’ll think “I can’t wait for coffee in the morning!”