New Grooves Gallery: “Create stood out as different to other charities”
New Grooves Gallery began life as a website set up by London-based friends Eleanor Cowell and Zoë Da Poian.
Founded during the second COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the site aimed to create a space for creativity at a time when distraction was needed by many. What followed was the formation of an artistic community who helped to support each other through lockdown using the power of creativity.
When the UK emerged from lockdown, New Grooves Gallery decided to take its online initiative into the real world, hosting a physical gallery of artworks at Blaze Image in Notting Hill, and choosing Create as the exhibition’s charity beneficiary.
ART AS AN OUTLET
Lockdowns around the globe really took their toll on us all. Many of us used art as a coping mechanism, drawing, crafting and creating our way through the intense periods of isolation. New Grooves Gallery co-founder Eleanor, who has a background in art therapy, said: “I noticed that people had started to create things and use artistic media as an outlet, where perhaps they hadn’t done before. It’s so cool that people are using art differently, as something that helps you.”
“Create really stood out to me as different to other charities because you’re really pushing art, not as a medium but as a wellbeing tool.”Eleanor Cowell
Co-founder Zoë said: “We didn’t expect [the project] to get as much traction as it did. Some were new, professional artists that maybe practised in their own time, and others did it more for the mental health aspect.”
BUILDING A COMMUNITY
During a time where everyone felt so disconnected, the online gallery helped bring people together, creating a community through art.
Zoë said “One of the things we asked for was how creativity had helped the artists. So we got these really nice messages with people saying how they’d had a really tough time and this had been really helpful for them. It ended up being this community of support for all of us. We know most of their names now. It was just really heart-warming and the more messages we got, the nicer the whole project became.”
“We saw contributors commenting on each other’s work and connecting and following each other, so it became this whole network of support, which was really nice.”
CREATIVITY AND WELLBEING
For many, New Grooves Gallery was a place of solace and comfort in a very trying time. Both Eleanor and Zoë were inspired by their own experiences of creativity enhancing their wellbeing.
Eleanor said: “I’ve always painted and illustrated, but art is always the easiest way to articulate myself. I think it’s far easier not to put it in words, and just automatically draw something because it’s a rawer form of expression. Especially during the pandemic when it was like … what is going on? Everybody’s confused, nobody knows how to talk about it, people don’t want to talk about it because it’s taboo. So I just find it’s a good escape and I think lots of people have found that, which is really nice.”
For Zoë, art was an interest from the past that was reignited during the pandemic. “I came back [to England, from Spain] and I was suddenly like, what do I actually enjoy doing and what makes me happy? I started thinking about art and started volunteering at some galleries online. Just surrounding myself with it makes me feel inspired by other people, by everyone’s stories and by the work they produce. So the pandemic brought that back to me, it’s reignited the interest, which I forgot was there.”
When New Grooves Gallery decided to take its online gallery into a real world space, hosted at Blaze Image, it chose Create as the charity beneficiary.
Eleanor said: “Create really stood out to me as different to the other charities because you’re really pushing art, not as a medium but as a wellbeing tool. It’s not highlighting art therapy it’s just … let’s just make some art! And I thought that was really interesting.
“Some of our contributors may not continue doing the artwork afterwards, it may just have served a purpose at the time. But if they can give back to an organisation that will definitely keep doing the work because they align with the same values, then that’s perfect!”
Zoë added: “We 100% didn’t want to keep the money for ourselves, we wanted to give it to something else, to some sort of project, so when we found Create we thought, this makes sense. It aligns with our message.”