For many, 2020 will be the year when we rediscovered the art of working out what to do when we’ve got time on our hands. If the pictures of banana bread, sourdough and macramé plant hangers on social media are anything to go by, many of us used that time by putting our hands to work.
However, as the world returns to something resembling normality, the mixing bowls and balls of thread haven’t been abandoned. Instead, it seems their legacy could prove much longer lasting, sowing the seeds of new lives, new ventures and new communities.
Neal Wallace, a film producer living in north London, was one of the many who took his time at home as a chance to have a go at making sourdough. ‘I’ve always found baking very unforgiving, but there was nowhere for us to get nice bread on the weekend and I saw everyone having a go on Instagram, so I thought I’d join in,' he says. Neal bought a starter pack on eBay from a man called Steve who included a recipe in the Jiffy bag – ‘printed in Comic Sans’ – and had a go. ‘Surprisingly, it worked quite well.’
Encouraged by his initial success, Wallace’s bread-making has become a regular practice, underpinning the days with a welcome shape and rhythm. ‘At first it was just a pleasant way of passing the time,’ he explains. ‘But now it’s a routine. It’s been good to form a new habit in a weird situation.’
For photographer Joe Woodhouse, this year's disruption has created space to 'scratch that creative itch'. Woodhouse spent the summer learning how to brew beer using wild ferments. ‘It’s artistic because you design the process and set it in motion, but there's quite hardcore science going on too,' he says.
It was a long-held desire of his to have a go and, with time on his hands, he realised this was the moment for him to give in to his earlier curiosity. He settled into a gentle rhythm of researching and experimenting on quiet mornings, with his new baby strapped to his chest. Now, after producing several successful batches (and a couple of experimental disasters), and gaining lots of positive feedback from those who’ve tasted it, he’s looking at the possibility of starting a micro-business.