While the world is staying home to stop the spread of COVID-19, one theatre designer is spending the time recreating famous paintings by casting her parents as the subjects.

A side-by-side image a couple recreating Self Portrait of the Artist and his Wife, 1496 with the original.jpg
Molly's recreation of Master of Frankfurt's 'Self Portrait of the Artist and his Wife,' 1496  © Molly O'Catháin

With lockdowns happening all over the world, creative endeavours are manifesting in all kinds of ways. Some initiatives are very clever and are demonstrating how the fun use of imagination can help people to get through the crisis.

One great example of this creativity in action comes from Molly O’Catháin, an Irish production design assistant working at the National Theatre in London.

Molly is spending the lockdown at her parents' home in Dublin, and is recreating portraits that cast her mother, Liz Nilsson, and father, Brian Ó Catháin, as the leads in famous paintings.

Speaking to Lonely Planet, Molly revealed that she was inspired by a tweet from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdamm suggesting that people recreate paintings from their galleries.

"I guess I stored it away in the back of my head, and then one evening when we needed a distraction, the idea came back to me," she says. "I started with American Gothic, as it was the first iconic duo that came to mind."

Molly decided to create the clever replica portraits using a wide variety of items found in the house, like scarves, blankets, tablecloths and ties. She and her parents also created props from other bits and pieces from the house.

"I normally trawl through salvage yards, charity shops and costume hire departments," says Molly. "Now I’m digging through my parents' cupboards looking for something that looks a little bit like an ornate metal helmet, such as a pasta saucepan! I have really enjoyed people getting enjoyment out of the finished creations online."

Creating the backdrops involved moving furniture around and enabled the family to recreate classics such as Gustav Klimt’s 'The Kiss'; Salvador Dalí and his wife, Gala, photographed by Narique Meneses; and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, photographed by Nickolas Muray.

"It's very silly and ad hoc, and it's just what we do after dinner instead of watching TV," says Molly. "My mum’s an artist and my dad is a great lover of art, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. I’ve ended up unexpectedly living with them in a house I’ve never lived in before. It feels like we’re having to learn how to co-exist as grown-ups, and this is helping to keep it jovial."

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Molly's recreation of Dosso Dossi: A Man Embracing a Woman. 1524 © Molly O'Catháin

To see what Molly and her parents get up to next, check out her Instagram page here.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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