The romantic stereotype of the impoverished, introverted artist, working solo in their garret rang strangely true in 2020 but this was no matter of choice … As COVID-19 exposed the developing cracks in every culture and society, preying upon the vulnerable, artists with their already fragile lifestyles suddenly found themselves in a particularly precarious position. Unlike other industries the arts and practitioners who have received little to zero support from Government, were literally, left to their own devices. With programs torn asunder by lockdowns, closures and plummeting incomes, art galleries have been required to rethink the way they program and the ways they are able to work with artists and audiences. International and interstate program have become almost impossible as travel restrictions and sudden border closures continue to plague a globalised cultural sector.
As we enter into 2021 by which time the crisis is far from over it is not even possible to consider an exhibition that has not somehow been impacted by the crisis. Homebound takes a somewhat positive view attempting to activate a zone of positivity in the long aftermath of a twilit twelve months. It is an exhibition of artists from or connected to the Canberra region who over the past year have produced work largely in isolation from arts infrastructure and support systems, such as galleries, museums and universities; dislocated from audiences or forced to communicate through digital media. Homebound takes a group of artists and asks what actually happened during this bizarre period in which many artists could do nothing except make art by whatever means available. Contemplating the “new normal” and what it means to the progress of culture we also consider the changing relationship between artist and gallery where, by necessity the focus moves to the local area in an attempt launch a recovery by bringing artists back into the fold and rebuilding fractured communities.
Homebound references two major thematics in the year that almost wasn’t, to be confined to home and to return home, to find shelter in a storm.
Artists: Joel Arthur, Emma Beer, Rory Gillen, Aidan Hartshorne, Rosalind Lemoh, Natalie Mather, Robbie Karmel. Curator: David Broker
Image: Joel Arthur, A Forest, oil and acrylic on polyester, 2020. 150 x 180cm. Credit: Brenton McGreachie