Reflections from Lockdown on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Opportunity, Excitement, and Uncertainty.
The first lockdown commenced back in March and at this time I was an artist in residency at Police Point Cottage, Point Nepean. On arrival at the cottage, there was a wave of uncertainty as there were rumors of a lockdown but nothing was confirmed. Whilst unpacking my belongings which were far too comprehensive for the short two-week stay but I wanted to be prepared. So I had brought basically everything that I owned that was related to creating art and taking photographs. As I slowly unpacked my belongings I contemplated the outcome of the predicated lockdown and felt unsettled. I had awaited this time at the cottage with much anticipation and excitement. Now there was a sense of concern and a deep feeling of unpredictability. It was a case of waiting to uncover the next action and being prepared to leave the cottage at any given moment.
I struggled to settle at the cottage as I closely watched the news and as the days past I had found it difficult to focus and concentrate on being creative. There was a wave of tension that filtered through the air whenever I left the cottage as the locals were on edge and business owners awaited news they may need to close. I lasted just over a week at the cottage which was perhaps longer than expected before receiving the call that I would need to leave the cottage. I felt such disappointment yet strangely relieved that a decision had been made. I hadn’t felt relaxed or achieved much during my time preoccupied with COVID-19 and the ever-expanding chaos it had brought. Whilst away I had been in contact with family in the UK and the information I received was hugely concerning. I knew this was something that was not going away quickly and hearing of the effects of this virus left me feeling helpless.
I was relieved to be going home……a little disappointed that I hadn’t had the opportunity to create and enjoy the beautiful landscape. However, this seemed so insignificant to what was happening right now, and being creative felt like an indulgent luxury. Once back home I realized I had actually been in quite a protective bubble at Point Nepean and without the pressure of daily life. The contrast to my life in the suburbs was something that made me reflect on how my life could be. Living in nature and in quiet surroundings could bring so many benefits. I was considering how amazing rural living could be. Although I am certain there would be drawbacks that I was not aware of…..It was a wonderful dream.
Lockdown, Isolation, and Creativity.
As weeks turned into months of lockdown there was a wide range of feelings and emotions beginning to emerge. There were moments that felt like wide open space, where possibilities and limitations were removed. These are the moments you find yourself with when there is nothing but silence, no schedule, no agenda. There is a sense of peace with being with your own thoughts and having time for quiet reflection. There was at times just contentment to be at home, enjoying a slower pace. The daily walks, the deeper conversations with the family, and the extra time to enjoy the benefits of simplicity.
The opportunity to be given a reason to create arouse through the virtual residency and I didn’t hesitate. I needed a purpose to create and I also was keen to express how I felt through my artwork. When I paint it’s always about letting my emotions and feelings surface….feeling into what I am experiencing and this seemed the perfect option in isolation. What I noticed was a rich range of thoughts and each day whilst often similar brought new challenges. There was a strong sense of missing that deep connection of being with people in person. The need to touch, hug, smell, and hold. The small interaction that we take for granted the laughter between two friends, the sense of knowing when you meet in person if something is wrong. It was through the online space that I found a replacement form of connection. Yet nothing compares to when you see a person in real life.
Whilst there was more time to be alone with your own thoughts and deepen the connection to myself this also brought new challenges. There was time to reflect, consider, and plan the future yet it was impossible to determine how that would transpire. When normality would return….so many questions and so few answers.
The chosen theme for my artwork was around expressing my feelings, thoughts, and emotions during COVID-19. Despite the fact, I had wanted to explore this theme and it also created resistance, frustration, and sadness. The series I created explored my day-to-day environment and the range of both energy levels and mixed emotions. Whilst I normally enjoyed alone time and being at home, when it is enforced and not by choice it feels very different indeed. So there were times when breaking free and expanding out of the permitted area were passing thoughts. However, in reality, I knew that was not going to happen and tried to stay positive and just be productive at home.
In creating my artworks I was drawn to strong, bold colors that were very different from my usual color palette. Perhaps in feeling restricted it brought out a new level of creativity that broke my previous self-imposed limits and this is no doubt a positive outcome. The combination of blue and grey tones transferring the sadness, worry, and concern felt. The deeper red, the orange tones portrayed hope, confidence, and strength. The shadowy figure that was myself floating through the days in stillness, serenity, and peace. Each painting is symbolic of the daily events, moods, feelings, and emotions that surfaced. It has been a slow, steady progression of work that surfaced into lightness, optimism, and excitement as restrictions lifted and daily life resumed. There was the emergence of deep appreciation, gratitude, and joy to feel freedom, flexibility, and connection without barriers once again.
The artist watches observes with curiosity,
They sit with an immense appreciation of their environment.
They see deeply…
They feel deeply
Art isn’t for explanation
It reaches deep within your soul.
Connecting, speaking words that can never be spoken.
It nourishes, awakens, and brings joy.
Yet in a moment it can tear that down with sadness.
The artist must be fearless, courageous, and bold.
They must be prepared to share the deepest parts of themselves.
Art will sometimes require you to walk the dark night of the soul.
Lonely, unsure, and yet confident in the unknown.
For the artist, there is no other way….It is the only way.
Creativity is not a choice….it is deep within, it is a calling.
It is a silent whisper that becomes louder.
It is everything and yet nothing at all.
Your life is art….you are art.
About the Virtual Residency program
Mornington Peninsula Shire’s internationally significant Police Point Artist in Residence program supports between 25 – 30 local, national and international artists each year. The program supports a wide range of emerging, mid-career and established artists, with more than half of the annual allocation of residencies granted to Peninsula-based artists to develop and foster their artistic practice.
In response to COVID-19 and in the corresponding interests of public safety, the Police Point Artist in Residence program was temporarily suspended in 2020. Mornington Peninsula Shire developed a virtual residency program to support the Peninsula-based artists who had previously successfully applied to continue to develop and deliver creative works.