Suzie and I have been thinking for some time that our garden is due for a refresh, and this weird time seemed like a good moment to swap my T square for a shovel.
The garden makeover began with a Monday verge collection. The family pitched in to uproot virtually the entire back yard and put it out for collection. From there communal interest waned, and it was left to me to get the project over the line.
Immersing myself in the garden and producing something positive for the family was the perfect Covid time antidote for me. And physically creating something has a positive effect on the soul.
Working on the garden, I reflected on what was inspiring me. My career long interest in the incorporation of building and landscape design? Was I becoming my father who loved his garden and created his own garden makeover in a move to native plants in the early 1970’s. Or, was it simply my love of Suzie and wanting to reward her for all that she does?
26/04/2020 Georg & Michael
Just over 12 years ago we moved from Germany to Australia. Before that, Michael came from New Zealand to live with me in Germany. Thanks to the comparatively low number of Covid-19 cases in Western Australia, the isolation during this pandemic seems to be the first time that we feel happy to be misplaced here. The biggest worries are for our families. How would we be able to support them if there aren't any international flights anymore that could us get near them?
The time has allowed us to slow down 'and smell the daisies'. I did not experience the loneliness of the isolation, as so many others did. As a musician I work a lot alone at home. It was a nice change to have Michael here. Particularly lovely has been hearing the music that he played via Zoom conference every morning to the dancers of the WA Ballet and the view on his screen of all of them dancing in their private homes.
The lockdown … I’ve actually enjoyed it. I work from home juggling paid work and personal projects. My daily routine hasn’t changed that much.
Vanessa’s been checking in daily with her family in Italy, where their continuing lockdown has been severe .. her poor mum been alone in her apartment for more than eight weeks now. I’m documenting the social impact of the virus, and that’s also been a good process to help connect to the local community. Things outside in Northbridge, and downtown have been more peaceful and there seems to be a greater awareness between people - you’re more physically conscious of where you are in relation to others, kind of like being in a spartan spaghetti western or a Jeffery Smart canvas.
I'm hopeful when we come out of this enforced bubble the world will be a better place, more sustainable, more awareness of excesses … but looking back on history to how other pandemics and catastrophes have played out, I'll reserve some doubt.
I have loved the time of covid, mostly. The world of distraction and achievement has disappeared. In its place the natural world is amplified. I notice the energy and silences of birds, and strangely some of them seem to engage with me. I wake most days with a sense of anticipation and I spend long hours in my studio, growing a painting steadily and slowly.
Days are long and open, slow and deliberate. One thing at a time. After several attempts to get seedlings I plant out a veggie garden. 'Grow your own food in case all the farmers have died or are in hospital'. At last I have some tiny precious plants.
Nights are anxiety-ridden and fractured. Dreams recur - of insoluble puzzles with pieces that don’t fit. I worry about those without food, in confined spaces, of children locked in domestic violence, of having no means. I don’t have the courage to venture imaginatively into refugee camps. Those are the darkest corners. At least, for now, we can park the politics of climate change in a shady laneway.
Early morning walks, evening walks, middle of the day walks, have provided the much needed respite from our homes and from our laptops, and are looked forward to each day. Some streets in our suburbs have been discovered for the first time as we search for a new route from the front gate. Our Welsh Spring Spaniel, Harley, has enjoyed the constant company and increased outings, and will need to readjust back to her old routine, as we gradually return to our lives of less isolation in the weeks or months ahead.
Throughout all of this we have been reminded again that we indeed live in a lucky country when hearing stories from friends in London and Italy, about how significantly Covid-19 has impacted their lives and communities.
What a time to live in! From 60 students to none and my Sydney exhibition postponed.
I watched so many detective series that I was unsure if I was in a tunnel or on a bridge. And movies blurred into one distant memory mainly because I dozed off half way through. One that lodged in my mind is a short film based on a true story “A Cat Named Bob” Enough of wasting time..
A new group of work has evolved from drawings and fabrication of objects from copper as the Britannia silver factories in England were closed due to Covid-19. To my surprise, the silence of the studio is very appealing and highly productive.
Teaching will start soon and I am not sure how I feel; I think I have forgotten how to speak with others. I am also reluctant to give up the silence of creativity apart from my hammers.
I work from home and if I need to reset I'll come out here and just watch the bees flying in and out of the hive. Busy time stops and earth time starts. It’s curious that creatures so fast and hard working seem to have the ability to slow time too.
Sometimes when I’m harvesting, a bee will get caught in the honey. I’ll pop her on the landing board and her sisters will rush over and clean all the honey off and save her life. Just like we do when one, or many, of ours are hurt or ill.
Today many of the restrictions we have been living with lifted. I have mixed feelings about it. Once the initial anxiety about income and illness subsided, this became a very full time for me.
Full in the sense that currently there are four adults living here, with our shared dinners a highlight of our days. Full in the sense that formerly empty weekday footpaths and parks have come to life with families walking, running, cycling and playing together. And full in the sense that guilty thoughts of neglected friends far and near have become the action of video calls or long walks together. I hope we can stay on earth time.
24/04/2020 Lucille and Maya
My daughter and I unexpectedly ended up together during the Corona Virus lockdown. We had different visions of how 2020 would pan out, however, despite disruption and unexpected changes, we managed to find peace and comfort in my childhood home.
The life of a freelance artist is planned well ahead, often precipitated by art organisations. Projects, awards and residencies from Albany to Italy were rapidly cancelled. I was in shock. With Maya’s prompting, and the need for us both to have space our little cottage had its bones turned upside down. We reconfigured rooms into studios, tossed furnishings and purged comforts.
It’s been a time of reflection. Much has been debated. I am so grateful to have been with Maya, watching her art thrive, cooking, walking in nature while we considered Buddhism on impermanence and the meaning of life. More than anything we are appreciative of being in a very lucky country - to have landed in WA and to have our good health.
My entire adult life has followed the pattern of going out most nights of the week, travelling for weeks and months each year, Cooking is a rarity. I’ve been alone at home for seven weeks with no visitors. I love being sociable, and I also love solitude. I have found a lovely pattern here to my days and nights.
In early March I bought a dress from Megan Salmon. Its fabric and textured pattern, and its pleats give me much pleasure. I started to wonder if I’d ever get to wear it. Today, in preparation for my portrait, I washed my hair in my first shower in days and tried on my new dress. It became a moment to think back on these weeks of isolation. I’ve settled down well in here, although I cry at the drop of a hat. The children and grandparents on 7.30 do it to me. Thinking about friends in India, in New York, and around the corner leave me depleted. It was soothing to welcome Rob into my house today.
'Thank goodness for nature; she gives me abundant surprises. Like the day the seeds I'd carefully placed in this pot, suddenly SPROUTED! I was excited. It's been a long time since I seriously gardened. And I remember now, as I tend these tiny babies, how such care nourishes me too.
This time in isolation has given me time to stop and to catch up with a world that runs on sunshine time rather than clock time.
To watch the absolute magic of a leaf uncurling, the dance of a skink between paving bricks.
To ground into this good earth that holds me and all life in her generous hand.'
19/04/2020 Kevin and Flick
Kevin 'My daughter's looking after me, I'm in palliative care. She set her home up so I can live here. I had a massive heart attack and couldn't go back to where I lived.'
Flick 'Due to Covid-19 if Dad went to palliative care or a nursing home he couldn’t have family around him. It’s an honour to have him here with me. He’s a wonderful Dad and was a beautiful carer for my Mum before she died on Valentines Day. He says he’s going to his girl.'
19/04/2020 Jen and Jode (and Obe)
While most people have been adapting to their new normal, we’ve been singularly focussed on getting back from Antarctica. We arrived home on Easter Monday and we’re less than halfway into our two week isolation period following two week’s mandatory isolation in a Melbourne hotel.
It’s been quite a trip, with unexpected twists and turns. We’ve had amazing support from our kids, family, friends, and neighbours, to get us home, support us through the highs and lows on the way, and now to do our shopping and walk our dog Obe.
We love being home but we can’t wait to be allowed out of the house, and to recommence our riverside walks with Obe.
Musician and architect Errol Tout lives with diabetes, cancer and Addison’s disease which, as he says "does awful things to one's immune system”.
He's been in isolation at home since mid March, continuing work on an album in his basement studio. Sandie, Errol’s better half, makes occasional well planned forays to the shops and has hunted down the last veggie box delivery service that still had any capacity.
Errol, true to his glass half full attitude, comments that their neighbourhood has recently come alive with the sound of children at home.
27/03/2020 Cyprien and Hugo
"So, I arrived here in Australia 4 months ago, did some road trips and stayed in Perth the rest of the time. I ended up in a nice hostel, and met a lot of people. The only job I could find was Uber Eats, I was working hard, I also tried to do my business in photography, but... coronavirus - everything went super fast.
I was thinking about going back to France but no way; all the flights were cancelled. Plan B, I talked to Hugo. The next day we had reserved AirBnB accommodation. Today I feel safe, I continue deliveries and wait for life to start again!
Hugo came back from the east in a hurry to join his girlfriend. He's been in Australia for 7 months. He's currently looking for a job along with the rest of the crew."
27/03/2020 Fiona and Bernd
"Front of mind right now is keeping our 35 yo business afloat and getting our heads around a conservative government’s socialist measures to help keep our staff in wages. The times feel shocking and tumultuous, exposing the best and worst in people. There are gems among our staff. Our isolation is a community gesture, deepening our appreciation of true friends, our children and neighbours. It feels more supportive and sustaining than extended family. There’s satisfaction in making sourdough bread by hand, delight in gifting and trading it. Rituals discarded in haste, return – like sending and receiving letters, playing a long-ignored guitar, finding on our doorstep a child’s hand-knitted gift, and, for the first time since we were married, eating three home-cooked meals a day. On walks and rides strangers meet our gaze or stop and chat; streets and parks normally hushed on a weekday bustle. Hours of solitude invite contemplation and appreciation. Day by day we learn how little we need."
27/03/2020 Mia and her Mum
My husband and I decided to bring my mum home to spend this time of isolation together. She normally lives in a nursing home nearby and has suffered from dementia for a number of years. It is very special for me to be able to share this time with her and be home to look after her. The future looks uncertain for all of us at this point in time, but there is something very comforting in returning to the simple pleasures of life: baking sourdough bread, playing a piano I haven’t touched in years, or painting in the garden on Sunday afternoons with our daughter. In some respect time has slowed right down, in other respects it’s never been so full. How ever isolated we are, we’ve never been so connected; however anxious we may feel, we’ve never experienced life in such meaningful ways.