The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our culture as well as our health, and the UK arts sector's fight to survive amid absent funding and the closing of exhibition spaces and theatres is a clear example of this.

Yet some artists have found interesting and innovative ways to use the restrictions imposed by the pandemic to further their own creative output in interesting and unexpected ways.

Two of those artists are Aurélie Freoua and Diane C. Frost, who used the closure of the Barnes Wetland Centre to take up an artistic residency there during lockdown.

In the following six months, the pair immersed themselves in the flora and fauna surrounding them and created a series of pieces that make up a new, free exhibition titled 'Fragments of Nature' now open at the Wetland Centre.

"It was a very meditative experience... I wanted to work with the idea that blue and green spaces are really important for our mental health, as we've discovered during this pandemic, and how important it is to find yourself in these spaces and close to nature," said Diane, who praised the Wetland Centre for their enthusiasm for the project.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Artworks produced by Diane and Aurélie during their residencyArtworks produced by Diane and Aurélie during their residency

"At a national level at the time health authorities were piloting what they call 'blue prescriptions' that takes mental health patients into blue spaces like the Wetlands to engage with nature, and I spoke with scientists about the message we wanted to convey with the art.

"The whole idea was to be brave, to really push the boundaries of what we were doing because nobody was telling us not to," she added.

Diane focused on creating art using cyanotypes; prints made using materials that react to the sun's light over time.

Meanwhile Aurélie, who typically combines poetry with abstract expressionist painting, sought to bring her own approach to the residency.

"It was very exciting challenge for me because I am inspired by the natural world but I hadn't previously worked with it so directly," she said.

"Going out into the reserve put my out of my comfort zone and let me explore nature in a deeper way, being immersed in the environment. It was a great adventure."

Richmond and Twickenham Times: "It was a great adventure...""It was a great adventure..."

The pair also worked together on various pieces, and said they learnt a lot from each other in the process.

The results were a dazzling display of works that chart the pair's course through their six-month tenure at the Wetland Centre.

The proximity of the natural world to the artists is clearly felt in the pieces they produced, from ghostly outlines of leaves and branches blotched onto Diane's indigo cyanotypes to the swirling, chaotic forms present in water echoed in Aurélie's paintings.

Through their works the pair help us focus on the importance of the natural world and the need to preserve it amid the climate emergency — a perspective that both artists held prior to the residency but one that was strengthened during their experience.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: The exhibition runs until August 31The exhibition runs until August 31

With so much time and space in which to work, the pair had unprecedented opportunities to think deeply on the work they would produce for the exhibition.

Indeed, some of the works included such as the cyanotypes require precision and preparation that the isolation brought on by the pandemic lent itself to.

This needed to be balanced with the spontaneity behind much of what is best about the artworks the pair produced.

"There is a bit of conflict actually, but I think we need both because we are all made of chaos and order," Aurélie, who previously studied mathematics and compared her work to jazz improvisation, reflected.

"The chaos is the creative flow and pulse, the order compensates that and we need that balance, like we see in the universe itself."

Diane agreed: "I have to plan a lot as a print maker but I actually felt more freedom with the cyanotypes, working outside with nature. Working with the elements, the rain and the snow, you had to welcome serendipity and random marks that occur.

"And when we did the very big work and decided to put out bodies into it, it quite an amazing moment and totally different to what we do in the studio. It was like a ballet."

'Fragments of Nature' is free to attend at the Barnes Wetland Centre until August 31. 

Click here for more information.