Moving artwork explores loss amid pandemic

A contemplative picture of a man lying on his father's bed
Silhouette image in blue

Article by: David Millett

Publication date:

Ravensbourne lecturer and visual artist Othello De’Souza-Hartley has released an evocative piece of work exploring grief following the unexpected loss of his father during the Covid-19 pandemic.

His piece ‘Blind, but I can See’ reflects on the notions of stillness, absence and presence. It was commissioned by the art and photography platform Autograph. Othello, who works as a sessional lecturer for our Further Education courses, also sat for an interview with the exhibition’s curator.

The personal and moving work comes at a poignant time in history, one where millions of families across the world are grieving the sudden losses of their own loved ones from a shared cause. Through bans on public gatherings, the pandemic has also robbed people of the typical opportunities to share grief and healing, which adds further gravitas to the work.

A contemplative picture of a man lying on his father's bed

In the spring of 2020, shortly before the collaboration with Autograph, Othello unexpectedly lost his father, Nevil Hartley, to Covid-19. It was in the time that followed that he created the project.

An undisturbed room

It is comprised of an extended self-portrait photographed in his father’s bedroom, capturing the stillness within. It also includes a painting and a film, the latter of which displays a tranquil image of the gently swaying tree outside his apartment window, a sight that invokes feelings of reflection.

The piece was commissioned by Autograph as part of its ‘Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other’ project. Othello is one of 10 UK-based visual artists invited to create works in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

A black canvas with green paint strokes

Autograph paired each of the artists with a writer who wrote short reflective essays contextualising the artworks. The poet Raymond Antrobus wrote about Othello’s work.

‘Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other’ will be presented as a two-part exhibition at Autograph's gallery in Shoreditch from late summer 2021 through to spring 2022.

Asked for a quote summing up his work, Othello’s response was simple: “Blind, but I can See.”

You can visit Othello’s Instagram, othellodesouzahartley, to see more of his work.