Letters from Natasha: April 2020
Living Through Tough Times
I hope you're doing well. What can I write about today? I would really like to write about something else than what is outside our windows, but it's not working.
No matter who you are, a craftsperson, an artist, a designer, a taxi driver, a teacher, whether you are an Italian, a Russian, or an English, we all feel stress, and concern about today, tomorrow, and the future.
I was a teenager at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union and we lived through difficult and quite hungry times. We took turns, after school, to stand in queues for hours for bread, flour, sugar, vegetable oil. Food coupons were required for purchases.
Parents replaced us after work, so the families effectively lived in queues, getting by on the most necessary. I remember one year in my family was a courgette year. We had an allotment at the time and grew courgette among other vegetables. So we ate courgette jam, courgette pancakes, had zucchini omelette, cooked courgettes fried and boiled. Another year my mother made lots of homemade vegetable preserves: pickled gherkins and tomatoes, pickled peppers.
Thieves broke into our shed and took everything all the jars with preserves we had prepared for the upcoming winter. She cried for a very long time, and we felt sorry for her but were unable to help.
Of course, many years passed since then, the world around me has changed dramatically. However, now we are faced with new uncertain, unpredictable and troubling times.
What has happened to me personally since the start of the lockdown? Our art studios hub has closed provisionally until July. I had to urgently take all my machines, tools and materials back to my tiny home studio room. I am lucky to have it, though.
The work process is quite challenging with the entire family indoors. The kids have to be fed and somehow home schooled. We go for walks in the evenings when there are no people on the streets, as our local Richmond Park gets a bit crowded, especially in sunny weather.
However, I have managed to create a very simple 'do it yourself' purse kits with accompanying video instructions which I post out and also work on remote lessons. It allows some people to get a little distracted from the everyday stress and learn a useful new skill along the way.
So let's hold on and keep going. Good luck to all of us. Special wishes and support go to my great Italian suppliers! Take care, everyone.