Creative responses to my experience

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Creative responses to my experience


Art and photography


Painting 1
People emerging from their houses to clap the NHS for the first time - back in March, when it was dark at 8.00 p.m.

Painting 2
Painted another view from my window. This is two people having a socially distanced conversation in the street.

Photo 1
This notice appeared in the gates of the University Parks when the 2-metre rule was introduced for the first time - baguettes for measurements!

'After This' was written at the height of lockdown, when I was feeling very nostalgic about the things we were all missing.  At that time I imagined that release from lockdown would be a sudden return to normality - rather than the very slow and complicated process it turned out to be.

'Birdwatching' is another poem written during lockdown.

This submission is from a member of the Adult Learning Group. The Adult Learning Group includes Searchers (a research group), Art Group, and Creative Writing Group.


April 2020


Meg Barton


Museum of Oxford


Meg Barton

Original Format

Painting, Painting, Photo, poem, poem

Alt text

(full transcriptions of both poems below)
After This (spring 2020):
We will meet in a pub. The dark interior
heavy with frying chips and beer,
and there will be a buzz (if you recall that sound)
of conversation from other tables,
and the wooden floor will creak slightly,
and, the first draught singing in your head,
you will say to your companions
"I've been thinking..."

Or maybe it is instead, a cafe
where you can order coffee like a lord,
And coffee will be brought. And there is often
some small surprise, like a pattern on top of the coffee
or a miniature biscuit on the side, and maybe
with your spoon you will taste a little of the foam
while your friend says to you "Now, tell me..."

And I will go to the cinema, diving past
the popcorn-smelling foyer to become
a member of an audience, our minds locked
into a single story. And we might all gasp
at the same time - remember? Emerging
in the daylight afterwards we smile at each other
as if to say "We were there".

I shall wander like a potentate around the shops,
money in my pocket, surveying what is to buy:
an invigorating smell of new clothes, or leather,
a waft of paper - stationery in piles, new books,
the woody metal tang of DIY, soft soily scent
of garden centres. Catch cooking spices
on the breeze from evening restaurants.
I shall walk in the morning past a bakery, inhale.

I might travel in a slow train, being taken to where I want to go,
perhaps looking out of the window. Or maybe at the people getting in,
the upholstery warm in the slanting light.
And I shall stand and look at the sea and weep,
the buffeting air reeking of seaweed and sun lotion.

But I shall keep
the early morning walking in the park,
the other walkers distant too, and solemn,
stopping now and then to earnestly admire
the blossom and the green.
And I shall keep the empty sunlit streets,
the pure air of the city. The birdsong everywhere.
The robin has been out more than once today,
I swear it. I see the bluetit has made
another unnecessary visit
to the bird table. Sparrows are coupling
on the chimney pots, though they are definitely
not of the same household.

In the park there were ducklings splashing and dunking
as though nothing at all was happening.
And on the telegraph wires, swallows lined up
wing to wing. Just think!
As for the starlings, every night
gathering together - great crowds
racketing everywhere.
They've no consideration. None at all.

I want to shout at them - "Haven't you even noticed
what's missing from the landscape?

There is a pause, the robin blinks,
the bluetits shrug their wings,
and then the bloody birdsong starts again.
A pigeon murmurs though
"I miss them, just a bit.
I'd kill for a bag of pretzels
or a chip."

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