Podcast Series

Coping Mechanisms

In March 2020, lockdown became inevitable in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic. With almost all of our projects coming to a halt, we found ourselves with unexpected time on our hands. We talked enthusiastically about starting an online project, perhaps talking to people about the music they’ve been listening to while isolated. Seeing endless photographs of empty streets all over the UK, we even came up with a name for it — Deserted Island discs. Giddy with excitement we even registered a domain name. And then did, literally, nothing else about it.

Fast-forward through several weeks of lockdown and it’s been fascinating and heartwarming to see so many lockdown projects have actually been started. The communities that have grown around them organically online have helped many of us feel even just a little bit less isolated.

Speaking with the people behind some of these ventures, we’re keen to find out what we can learn from these them, what drives them to take that extra step, from just having a good idea, to acting on it? We’ll also be thinking about why the arts are so important in times of crisis. Feeding the imagination seems to play an important role in our collective mental wellbeing. But if the creativity is so integral to our survival, why have we allowed society to value the arts so lightly?

To listen, click on the episode links below, or search “Somerset House” on your podcast app.


How do we cope when our world is unexpectedly turned upside down? In the first episode of Coping Mechanisms Iain & Jane explore the collective importance of creative initiatives devised in lockdown with Jarvis Cocker and Alain ‘Fusion’ Clapham.

Online lockdown projects have helped many of us feel a little less isolated and for some, especially performers, it has been about finding ways to carry on regardless. Here Jarvis Cocker discusses hosting his “Domestic Disco” on Instagram, spinning records from his living room and inviting viewers to join him for a socially-distanced dance.

For others, the priority has been keeping platforms open and ensuring voices are still heard. Alain ‘Fusion’ Clapham is the founder of Black Man’s Time. Determined to create something positive out of the moment, “Black Love Stories”, intended to be launched in real life, was swiftly reassembled online, and now airs every Friday night on Instagram Live.


Why is it so many of us turn to creativity in tough times? In Episode 2 of Coping Mechanisms Iain and Jane speak to two incredible personalities: Noel Fielding and Sue Tilley, who both turned to running art classes in lockdown.

The comedian Noel Fielding, well-known for his role as one half of The Mighty Boosh, is a comedian, writer, actor, artist, musician and now the presenter of a much-loved TV show about baking. Sue Tilley is an artist. She’s best known as the subject of Lucian Freud’s painting Benefits Supervisor Sleeping and her book written about her close friend, Leigh Bowery: The Life and Times of an Icon.


In Episode 3 of Coping Mechanisms Iain and Jane explore how Twitter has become an unlikely positive platform during lockdown.

Catch up with the brilliant writer and director Carol Morley, whose films include Dreams of a Life and The Falling. Carol has been hosting “Friday Film Club” – each week she chooses a readily available, free-to-watch film. People then watch at the same time and meet up on Twitter to discuss it afterwards.

Similarly The Charlatans frontman, musician, writer, DJ and record label owner, Tim Burgess launched an extensive series of “Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties”, where fans could come together to ask questions and share memories.


Are we witnessing the start of an important shift? Has the virus cultivated a set of circumstances for the evolution of how we access, shape and share culture?

In the final episode Iain and Jane talk to the stand-up comedian and radio broadcaster Robin Ince about the Stay at Home Festival and musician, producer and DJ Nabihah Iqbal about her time as Lockdown Herbalist. Delving into what it is that drives people to channel their creative energies and help us feel a little less isolated. We also welcome back Jarvis Cocker who may send you off to sleep with his Bedtime Stories.

Coping Mechanisms is a Somerset House Podcast.

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