By Kate Thompson
T here haven’t been too many positive things to come out of the pandemic. But seeing regular social media posts full of wry observations and masterful strokes from the talented hand of Southsea artist Kevin Dean certainly helped to lighten the load of the lockdown for many friends and followers.
His wonderful watercolours that captured our everyday COVID-19-afflicted world were eagerly anticipated, and his followers delighted in the narrative that brought his posts to life.
And now, following a successful Kickstarter campaign, his work has been turned into a beautiful book called #Corona Chronicles, and copies have been sent as far afield as New Zealand, Australia and America.
“At the outset it was never intended as a book — it was more to do with the drawings and capturing what was happening at home. Then I went out onto the streets of Portsmouth — and after a few months of posting my paintings and thoughts on Facebook and Instagram, people started messaging me and asking me when the book was going to be coming out. “At that stage I thought it was very nice for them to say so, but it seemed unlikely.
“Then my friend Alastair suggested running a campaign on Kickstarter, and the response was brilliant. We raised enough money to publish the 120-page book and cover postage to send copies to all the backers,” he explained.
Editor of Southsea Lifestyle, Kevin has spent a lifetime illustrating books, designing textiles and ceramics, but writing about the Covid-19 crisis has helped him to develop his voice.
“I had never written very much in public before, and it ended up being just as much fun as doing the drawings.
“Some things were pretty obvious for me to cover like the queuing, and the clapping for frontline workers, but then I started to search out other angles and be a bit more reactive.
“It was difficult not to be political when highlighting the errors and mishaps at government level, but I hope I was always able to put this across in an amusing way.
“If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, we now know we have to do things better in the future, in terms of social injustice and the environment. After all, the virus has been caused by man interfering with nature and destroying the environment,” he said.
In his forward to the book, writer, editor, and curator, Les Buckingham, highlights the talents amassed over a lifetime, that make #Corona Chronicles a book you want to pick up and read. “We make a mistake if we think that these graphic insights are not hard won or are easily expressed.
“The skills needed to get these images down on paper are manifold. The easier the process looks the longer it has taken to learn them,“ observed Les.
Following the success of #Corona Chronicles, Kevin said he was considering embarking on more book projects — and highlighted how important his family had been to the publishing process.
“The look and feel of the book has a lot to do with my wife Zirrinia, who made such a great job of the book design.
“Years ago, I would have been correcting my sons’ English essays, but since they’ve been to university, they are now the ones checking my grammar,” he said.