Art Terry: Self Isolation Songbook + live performance on grand piano

Friday 29 October 2021

The Self Isolation Songbook short film documents musician Art Terry recording a song a day during the 2020 lockdown. Screening, plus live grand piano performance, with tributes to Black heroes such as Angela Davis.


On 26 March 2020, the UK went into lockdown due to Covid-19. The next evening, in the sudden stillness, musician Art Terry played a song on his guitar. Lying on the sitting room floor, his partner Helena Smith idly filmed Art and sang along. Equally idly, she suggested that he should record a song a day for the then unknown period of lockdown, and that she should make an accompanying video each day.

For the next 52 days, Art recorded a song each day. On day 8 he began to feel feverish, and on day 9 he was hit by coronavirus, singing through sweats and chills.

Recovering but still weak, on day 15 Art recorded We’re Gonna Make It, in gratitude to neighbours who were helping out with shopping. This was a touchpaper for The Self Isolation Songbook, when its visual language changed. Instead of a hastily tidied apartment being the backdrop, Helena and Art began to use abstraction and surreal elements.

The Self Isolation Songbook isn’t a polished work – some days the endeavour came close to collapse – but it stays true to its intention, to harness philosophy, anxiety, playfulness, nostalgia and hope to reflect the times we are in. This short film showcases a selection of 17 videos from the 52 days of creativity.