WHEN the pandemic struck, painter Mousa AlNana turned his home into a giant work of art.

The 34-year-old – now holding online workshops to help learners beat isolation – says art has been the one thing helping most people through the lockdown as they sought solace in film, music and books. He says it’ll also help us make sense of what we’ve been through these last 12 months.

The Glasgow School of Art graduate – who covered his walls, cupboards and even chairs in paintings when lockdown locked him out of his shared studio – said: “Art is playing a massive part in the pandemic in a way that no-one is actually paying attention to.

“The video games people are playing are art, the movies they are watching are art, the colouring books they are using are art, they are making art with crafting tools.

“People don’t realise it. When they talk about art, they talk about sophisticated galleries and collections. That’s not art, that’s the business of art.

“Art is in every bit of us, it documents every aspect of our lives. It will be important for artists to show what they did during these times and the strength of the human response.”

Originally from Homs in Syria, AlNana settled in Scotland on Valentine’s Day 2019 and is currently delivering on the online Museum of Things project run by Glasgow’s Maryhill Integration Network (MIN).

Up to 20 refugees and asylum seekers take part every week in a scheme set up to foster connections and tackle loneliness through creativity. An online exhibition will follow.

While March marks one year since the coronavirus pandemic sent the UK into lockdown, it also marks the 10th year of conflict in Syria. AlNana, who has refugee status, uses his paintings to reflect on the realities for Syrians, even as the once-urgent reporting on the war there lessens.

“News is like fashion, there are always new trends,” he says. “Syria had its time and now people have kind of forgotten because there are new trends and new stories.

“Sometimes I wonder how long I will be a refugee. Maybe I could look to become part of this community and become Scottish.

“A love story started on that day I arrived in Scotland. I celebrate Valentine’s Day now as my anniversary here. I love Scotland and I love people here and how generous and kind they are. I know Scotland will have a beautiful future and I can’t wait to be part of it.”