Photograph by Leonora Oppenheim

“Every artist needs to find a balance between generosity and selfishness.”

I watch my friend, , closely through the Zoom screen as he teaches me a new word in Spanish. I roll the sound around my mouth like a marble, testing its form. My tongue assumes new shapes as I mimic him tentatively. Bon. Da. Do. So. And then again, more emphatically. It surely needs an exclamation point, this new word. “Bondadoso!” There’s a joyful spirit in the sound of it, which is wholly appropriate because it loosely means kindness and/or generosity.

That we can find words in other languages that do better at describing a specific feeling is always…


New growth, April seedlings.

Delicate is not a word I’d use to describe my mother’s hands. They were large, strong and capable of many things, such as making the finest pastry, digging the soil, or rubbing my back. Like her they were full of life and full of love.

I can see her hands now, covered in flour rolling out pastry on the kitchen counter-top. I can picture her gripping the heavy wheelbarrow as she rolls it down to the compost heap at the end of the garden. I can feel the feather light touch of her broad fingers on my back as a…


Moving to nature I, photograph by Leonora Oppenheim

I hear the barking dogs and I feel the goosebumps rise on my skin. I’m frozen in fear for just a second, wondering how close they might be. Then I move quickly, pulling my vest up around my torso and lunging for my jacket hanging on a nearby branch. I turn around and can just about make out a group of walkers further down the path. I laugh to myself and feel grateful to those dogs for warning me of the imminent intrusion.

I had been both lazy and bold on this particular day. Lazy, because I hadn’t got up…


Reaching out into nothing, 2019. Self portrait at Tate Modern in Olafur Eliasson’s Your blind passenger.

‘The “feel” in my skin and the “feeling” in my mind’

I’m beginning to feel claustrophobic. I’ve been sandwiched between three other bodies for some time now. It could be 5 minutes, it could be half an hour, I’m really not sure. In this state of constant touch and constant motion, rolling over each other, I find it easier not to think. Not to examine too closely what is going on, but just focus on sensation. I will myself into a kind of trance, because if I dwell on what is happening between me and these strangers I start attaching meaning where there is none.

All that matters in this moment…


Feeling my way through the world’s textures on my daily walk.

‘The sensory isolation is driving us mad.’

I’ve become obsessed with a certain Instagram account over the last week. It’s a steady stream of insanely cute photographs showing a baby hanging out with his very fluffy dogs in different cosy scenarios — on the sofa, in a cushioned window seat, on a bed. In this adult-free world the dogs appear to be taking care of the baby and I find the snuggling going on both triggering and soothing all at once.

I was broody before this quarantine period started and now I’m craving any kind of bear hug, cosy cuddle or playful tumble. At the very…


Taking a moment to feel the rays on my face — sunbathing on the floor of my sitting room.

“BUDDY! WE DON’T TOUCH THINGS NOW!”

Yesterday, I accidentally touched my lip. I touched my lip with my glove. My OUTSIDE glove!

I don’t know about you, but each day I regularly confuse myself with my own strategies to stay safe when I go outside. I wear my soft leather winter gloves to open shop doors and pick food up off the shelf, but then I’ll remove my glove to extract my debit card from its case. …


Being told off and then being comforted by my mother.

‘We can’t run over and give big hugs.’

I am watching the screen and copying the teacher’s movements. Using my fingertips, I lightly brush the skin of my arm in one direction, towards the heart. I see similar movements happening across all the other thumbnail windows, which give me a view into people’s homes around the world. While I continue to sweep my fingers from my knuckles to my collar bone, I look down at the counter. It tells me there are 61 people online in this session, 61 people brushing their arms together, in this moment, on this morning.

This is an experience of physical touch in…

Leonora Oppenheim

Visual artist. Searching for intimacy with nature. What can landscape teach me about womanhood? Body as a research tool — movement & mark-making.

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