Christopher Todd

MA Illustration and Book Arts

Christopher is a morris dancer.

Each year the world of English folk music and traditional dancing follows a busy calendar of events, ceremonies, sing-songs and socialising – and it was all interrupted in March 2020. From the rhythm of weekly morris dancing practice to the festival processions, the cancellation of a whole season was felt keenly and expressed creatively on social media.

The variety of responses and new realities was irresistible to document. There were online versions of regular events, new possibilities unlimited by location, feats of lockdown boredom and solo attempts to keep active, all adding to the continual evolution of tradition.

Christopher spent the summer of 2020 half on Zoom and half out in the fens between Cambridge and Peterborough. As the pandemic developed, he was joining in with a mix of groups online, sharing visual responses and observing new behaviours. It was all part of exploring and cataloguing a dizzying wealth of details and oddities, silly and serious, since discovering the morris world only a few years ago.

There were new angles on the fascinating challenges of drawing dance and of drawing movement as it happens. Watching online meet-ups, contests and concerts; logging the language, jokes, moods and frustrations of remote socialising; posting cartoons and designing badges for virtual events. Drawing became a way to engage with traditional culture, dance and folk music. The colourful sign-off, “Continue to flourish!” became an especially meaningful blessing in uncertain times.

Christopher's archive of sketches and responses developed into illustrative borders. The detailed arrangements are a way to make order from a jumble of emotions and confusion; to make a beautiful framework bustling with detail to pick out and reflect on. They come together as a loose narrative for an open-ended situation, commemorating what was “normal” before and seeking a resolution of hope.