Notes from Lockdown: William Bunce

In a content series curated by Rose Forde, contributors from issue 26 reflect on the new normal. Here, photographer William Bunce expands on the therapeutic nature of paint stripping

Contrary to what I see other artists doing on social media, I’ve taken a more relaxed approach to lockdown and indeed to making work.

The forced constraints of ‘Isolation’ themed work are somewhat limiting, so I have so far avoided making any work on the theme.

Instead I have been using the time and fantastic weather to start the mammoth task which I have been avoiding and would otherwise have paid a labourer to do: the stripping back of 25 years of paint and rust on the exterior of my canal boat. So I have been chipping away with an assortment of hammers – who knew there was a hammer specifically for ‘chipping’? There’s one for grinding, with various abrasive discs, from twisted wire brush attachments, to ‘flapper’ sanding discs. I’ve discovered a new tool – a ‘scabbler’ which has been literally eating up the old paint.

One thing that I keep noticing when grinding through the layers of paint, is the amazing patterns that are created when deeper layers are exposed, also the textures that are created while working. The finish is quite fleeting as I’m taking everything back to bare metal before applying an advanced epoxy paint system, so I have been documenting these surfaces as I go.

I think they make quite interesting texture studies, and although they don’t exactly take the same approach as my usual image making, I do quite like the effect.
There is a strong sense of community along the towpath, and as much as it can be stressful to enjoy being outside while maintaining social distancing, it does feel quite lucky to be able to be outside in the sunshine.

It has been a pleasure working on the latest issue, and I hope everyone enjoys the images as much as we enjoyed making them