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Underneath The Arches October 2020 - Working In Isolation.

Overpainting is finished on three of six paintings in my series Underneath The Arches (see below). These are odd times in my studio during this lockdown, which in Victoria, Australia, is among the longest and hardest of lockdowns world wide. Strange times indeed, but nevertheless, manageable for many artists who in any day of the week, work in solitude for much of the time. So many problems have have come to the surface across the state of Victoria throughout the last six months: marriage breakup, suicide, family violence to name but three among a list of social issues that appear to be ignored (or at least to have been placed to one side for political reasons), by those who are in charge of what was once a beautiful place to live.

I made a decision when I first set up this blog that it would be used for art related information only and that commenting on social issues was something best left to others: others far better qualified than myself to comment in any depth. However, too much has happened to people near and far, from all walks of life for me not to make any reference to the beleaguered times in which we live; the times in which the paintings below were created. I have written the odd little rant on the odd occasion about the oddities of the Australian art world and one time in particular a couple of years ago when the Melbourne Art Fare was cancelled for selfish financial reasons: it was an odd time in itself in that the person responsible for this insulting decision, declared that those artists who live and work in this vibrant, artistic city of ours, were incapable of putting on a decent art fare after three galleries from Sydney pulled out of the fare. The actual truth was that they couldn't afford to put it on. Had they been honest enough to admit that, I would have no issue with them whatsoever. It was indeed a farcical insulting decision and so I had my little rant at the selfishness of it all.

I digress. Key phrases and words have become part of the normal pattern of speech over the past six months. Isolation, which in true Australian tradition has been contracted to "Iso" - not an actual contraction - but nevertheless, woven into speech whenever anyone strikes up conversation about the dreaded lurgy otherwise known as Covid 19. There are many others, but Iso has a special place of its own (pun intended), in the hearts of most right minded Australians wedged in the middle of this prolonged, Pangolin, plague.

I picked isolation out especially as a word in that, much of my life since I decided to make art professionally, has been made in just that: isolation. Time spent with myself is the best time, it is the time when I do my best thinking, the time when when I make my best artistic decisions (some would disagree with that!), the time I am in complete control of my thought processes and feelings, the time when my mind and body are one.

I can work for hours without tiring and am at one with myself comfortably, not needing to be entertained or distracted by peripheral nonsense. I think this is true for many artists - and I would include music (composers) as well in that state of being. They too would appear to need time alone to make the sounds in their heads become real sounds in the real world. It must be the same for writers and poets of all description. There are many more artistic people who are comfortable living in the middle of an isolated creative life.

I do not think it is the same for many people who are not used to this way of life; in fact, I believe the complete opposite is true for many who find it difficult to function (or at least have become conditioned to accepting constant interruption), as part of their day. Indeed, I believe there are many people who cannot function to their full potential without some kind of loud (in all its forms), distraction. Gambling advertisements are everywhere - all forms of media carry all forms of ways in which to lose money: and by all accounts, for many people who are susceptible to this form of insipid advertising, gambling is on the rise with its agencies aided and abetted (pun intended), by politicians from all Australian states, who want gambling in all its forms to continue uninterrupted to raise a significant part of their income.

We are bombarded relentlessly with advertising and news reports every half hour aimed specifically at drawing a person away from them self emotionally, spiritually, philosophically, politically and empirically, in a torrent of garish lights and sounds. Well practiced words are spouted by well healed news reporters who find it almost impossible to report anything good or bad without using a string of unnecessary superlatives. This relentless barrage, in my opinion, plays a large part in adding to this general air of melancholy (and sadly, much worse emotional torment), in many people whose lives have been turned upside down in so many sad ways.

In the state of Victoria, there is a general air of unrest and ill feeling by many towards those politicians implementing the strict lockdown of our once beautiful vibrant city. When I say many, I don't mean the usual people who protest at the slightest inconvenience, I mean those people who have followed the strict guidelines, those people who have not broken the strict laws, but in doing so, have experienced the breakdown of their personal circumstances on every level. As I mentioned above, family violence, suicide across all ages, financial ruin on every level and homelessness on the rise are just a few of the appalling consequences of poor decisions made by politicians who appear to have no empathy or understanding of the mental health issues that will play a large part of Victorian society for many years to come.

My wife and I have not seen our two darlings (who have grown up to be lovely human beings), for six months. They are only one hour away by car. It has been tough for us emotionally as they are such an important part of our life. It has been as much of a test of character for them as it has been for us and we are all looking forward to the day we can be together again. According to the state premier of Victoria - I refuse to use his name - our family reunion (like thousands of others), might well be an impossibility until December 2020, which will mean by then, we will have been in lockdown for nine months. Utterly ridiculous and totally unacceptable.

On one hand, there are many businesses at the moment whose owners are having to make the difficult choice as to whether they continue as best they can, or close up shop for good. Many of these small businesses are sole traders who are quite capable of working safely while following strict guidelines. Thousands of them are unable to work. On the other hand, building sites controlled by powerful unions are at this moment, eighty five percent back at work: supported by those politicians too worried that the powerful leaders will not give them their backing when its time for the next state election. Eighty workers on a building site can work - one sole trader working safely on their own can not, unless what they do for a living is deemed as an essential service.

If you have read this far, I wish you well and every hope for the future. Hang in there as best you can. Know that there are people who are thinking of you, even if they are unknown to you. I can recommend making art highly as a way of spending time with yourself, not as indulgence, more as a way of giving yourself time to see a dark situation from a distance. It might also be a way of expressing your feelings good and bad or simply just give you some well deserved uninterrupted time to yourself. Take care.

The fourth painting in the series is nearly completed and will be posted here and on Instagram soon.


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