Alicia has worked with us on our forthcoming “Artist of Hope” exhibition at Towneley Hall, Burnley, from 17 July. She shares her thoughts on the theme of hope in De Morgan’s rainbow paintings.

“Our Lady of Peace” (1907) by Evelyn De Morgan

Peace. Hope. Prosperity. The future is bright. In eight months, I get the fresh start I have longed for many years. A new city, new friends and a new education. This degree marks the start of something incredible. The protection provided by the vital vaccine sends shivers of hope coursing through our bodies. We can, one day, return to normality. The brave soldiers of the NHS protect us buy putting themselves at risk, and for that we thank them. 

The two-meter lines on the shop floor may remain for a long time, masks and visors too. But knowing that we get to protect each other is the motivation we all need to keep in mind when placing the chosen materials over our mouths and noses. 

When summer was stolen from us, the nation fell into a depression. Not being able to see our friends and family saddened us, but we all had to keep in mind that – this too shall pass. Like the rainstorm that cancelled the Disney parade, we will get over this little hurdle, and when the next generation ask – we will tell them how we stayed at home to survive. 

I used to claim I was anti-social. But being locked away, only seeing friends through Zoom and Google Meets made me realise I am actually very social. I miss human interaction. I miss hugging my friends when I get off the bus to go to college before we all went for coffee. I miss aimlessly walking around a new city, taking my time in each shop I entered, the random conversations that would arise from the band merch I chose for that day. I miss the nearly 2-hour journey to college which was spent listening to music and reading. I miss having a flag draped around my body with the sun beating down on me while we walked to the sound of Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ at pride. 

I keep remembering that I turn 18 in four months and it scares me. When the pandemic started, I was a shy 16-year-old who had purple and blue hair, struggling to keep on top of the 4 subjects I studied, thinking this would only last a few months. now, with red and purple hair, and only 3 A-Levels, I learned to keep a routine and to take a break. It’s so important to learn to love yourself and I’m glad I finally love me. 

“Que sera, sera” lingers in my head like minty gum – whatever will be, will be. There’s no point in us trying to rush mother nature, we need to remember to protect our planet while we are all still here. Seeing as we shouldn’t be making unnecessary journeys, we can walk more and share our distances with friends and family alike, making mini competitions when we would go to the shops for bread and biscuits.

The war against the free education is over, now it’s my time to shine