The first restrictions of 2020 began at the same time that an exhibition of selected paintings from the 80s-00s had just been hung downstairs at Charles Nodrum Gallery with Jan Murray exhibiting upstairs. Everyone was very nervous and while the gallery remained open via appointment very few people were able to attend. These paintings were minimal and thinly painted and unfortunately it was difficult for their qualities to be conveyed through a digital medium. Simultaneously I was working on a wall-work commission for RMIT and it was a truly strange experience, regularly visiting the site in a fairly empty CBD while also consulting printers and installers. A site that, as far as I know, may not have gone on to be used. During the latter part of 2020 with the worst of the fears lifting I began to appreciate the unexpected benefit of being able to spend 24/7 with my wife and teenage daughter. As well as relief from long commutes, and many other activities that once seemed necessary, now seemed extraneous. A conducive period of reflective and explorative new work ensued, which was aided by the expanded studio space of VR headsets—making the home studio much bigger!
Family binging on Netflix sitcoms, and later MUBI movies and MIFF as well as dance offs, and home-made music helped alleviated the 2021 lockdown fatigue, interspersed with Zoom dinners, traipsing local waterways and very many COVID tests. During the interregnum between the two major lockdowns, I was fortunate to be able to have an uninterrupted exhibition of a couple of animations in the MARS gallery video spaces. Through this period, I also visited many exhibitions at museums and galleries which allayed my fears that the infrastructure for art had not been entirely decimated and also reaffirmed, like never before, the importance of the actual experience of art in situ.
Author/s: David Harley