Artists across Melbourne are riding the ebb and flow of COVID-19 with pens, pencils, paint brushes and digital styluses in hand. In this special piece, they share with us their current state of mind through thought-provoking words and visuals.
Samantha Ireland: creating a clear divide between work and relaxation
My small, one-bedroom apartment has been a sanctuary for me since I moved in about 18 months ago. It’s decorated with beautiful artwork, knick-knacks and an indoor jungle of plants—it’s mine and I can make it into whatever I want. I never wanted it to be a place for work, but that’s what quarantine and a year of curveballs has turned it into. An important lesson I’ve learnt is to create a clear divide between my workspace and my relaxation space. My couch is for relaxation, drawing and illustrating and enjoying my home cooking. It helps me switch off from my nine-to-five, creating balance and calm during isolation.
Good Weather Club
Catharine Harper: growing, reflecting and discovering in solitude
I have used this time of self-isolation as an opportunity to deeply reflect, grow and discover. This time has also coincided with me being single for the first time in 15 years. For me it has been a time to really go within and connect to my soul. I spend time walking in nature, developing my illustration skills, playing with my children, learning a new language, reading, dancing, and [practising] breath-work, mindfulness, meditation and gratitude. Some days, the magnitude of loss that others are experiencing feels so overwhelming. However, I do my best every day to focus on the good, to focus on the love, stay strong for my children and do my part to support my local community and small business. I chose to see this as an opportunity to "bloom where we are planted".
Catharine Harper Illustration
Amelia Jane: embracing motherhood with self-compassion
I found out I was pregnant two weeks after COVID-19 restrictions began in March. Prior to pregnancy, I was never someone who self-identified as a ‘motherly’ type, I found the traditional archetype of that adjective a suffocating prospect and felt it was completely opposite to who I identified as a person. Before becoming pregnant, whilst I was deciding with my husband if this was something we wanted to do, I wrestled with my sense of worthiness as a mother and the depth of responsibility of ‘mothering’. Strangely, I feel that isolation has given me time and space to consider who I am, and what mothering means to me instead of what it means to those around me and society. I am six months pregnant today and I call the baby my sunflower because I purchased sunflowers for my husband around the exact time the baby began growing in this world, and as I feel every movement by them, they turn my focus and attention to the sunlight against what is a really dark and isolating experience of the pandemic. Maybe that’s was mothering is, loving and bonding and creating a language of love between you and your child that’s just for you? I realised through this isolation that there isn’t one type of ‘mothering’ or ‘mother’, and who I am will be enough, as long as I’m myself and love my child, which I already do.
Caitlin Murray: rediscovering old hobbies
This self-portrait shows me hiding behind my COVID friend Pickle. I made Pickle out of an old hoody back in March when I rediscovered my love of sewing during the first lockdown. I am very fortunate to have my creativity to help me through this strange and disconcerting year. As a Melbournian, I will be spending the next six weeks hunkered down at home under stage 4 restrictions. It's a strange feeling this time around. We have lost our adrenaline and the novelty of Zoom has disappeared, but we really just have to get on with it. On the plus side, if we manage to get the numbers down then we will be out in time for spring! Sending love to all the creatives out there in isolation. Stay safe everyone!
Caitlin Murray Illustration
Marta Tesoro: fighting negative thoughts with gratitude
I've tried to stay productive as much as possible during isolation, mostly drawing and being surrounded by things that I love and care for. I know that I am in a more fortunate position than most as I still have my job, am not in any danger of losing my place of living and have a loving partner; however, I still can't help but have negative thoughts and days where I am depressed thinking of all the things I cannot do and all the people I cannot see.
Rabbit Town Art
Gemma Keating: decompressing and finding comfort in nature
After the first lockdown, my mental health took a dive; suddenly I was jobless and there was a lack of structure in my day. [When] I felt lost and anxious, I sought comfort in art and in nature, where I have always found it. For me, to be outside is to decompress, and I am blessed to have a backyard at this time. Taking a slow moment every day to sit outside and watch the world with a childlike sense of curiosity has helped me regain a sense of self. [It] is for me—now weeks into the second lockdown here in Victoria—the ultimate form of self-care when I can’t seem to function properly: noticing the ants and birds and flowers and clouds.
Vanessa Bong: accepting negative feelings and finding happiness in little things
Going into lockdown 2.0 in Victoria was truly hard. After getting a small taste of normality and then to go into even tougher restrictions was just really sad and disheartening. Somehow, the novelty of online games, 45-minute Zoom meetings, working from home, wearing track pants daily had lost its appeal. I spent some time talking to people and expressed my frustrations, sadness and, I would even say, despair until I could come to terms with my emotions. Especially being a creative, the feelings of boredom and lack of freedom left me completely uninspired, discouraged and disappointed. But I finally learnt that it's okay that I feel this way, a lot of people feel the same. I don't have to beat myself up that I don't feel creative, this is a crazy time! Right now, the most important thing is to accept my sad feelings and look for the little things that make me happy, cakes, phone calls with friends, books, stroking my dog, prayer, flowers, laughing with my family, playing games with my sister. I've come to accept that I can spoil myself a little and not be so hard on myself. That spoiling myself and showing myself compassion are two of the most important things that will get me through this time. I'll keep showing up for myself in the little things, as I patiently wait this out.
Mariah Barnaby-Norris: waiting patiently for normalcy
This is a self-portrait of how I've been feeling during lockdown 2.0 here in Melbourne. I've spent so much time in my own head, hanging out by myself, overthinking things, chatting to myself (and my dog). I'm looking forward to getting out there and visiting with friends again, but until then, I hope everyone is staying safe and looking after themselves!
Kat Chadwick: remembering change is the only constant
In March, I moved into my own little home, planted my first proper veg patch and adopted a kitten. Living and working in seclusion during lockdown brings its challenges. The days can feel the same and COVID life can sometimes be overwhelming. My garden and cat have been great reminders though, that no matter what, life goes on. Things keep changing and good stuff happens. Those little seeds I planted in the autumn soil have transformed into lush and leafy crops. And my kitten, initially so tiny and timid, has evolved into the feisty and confident Fanny Puss! I look forward to a time when we can finally celebrate our new home with friends and Summer drinks in the garden.