Tightly-packed crowds enjoy the MCA under Vivid lights last year.

Audio: Reconnecting with the arts in a pandemic

Visual Arts

In a year where the hits keep coming, COVID has triggered one positive outcome. Many Australians have used this surreal time to re-connect with arts (and crafts) culture. Whether it is virtually through online exhibitions or in their own home doing a DIY project, Australians of all ages have used art as a form of escape from the chaotic consequences of the pandemic.

For millennials, this has meant creating innovative textiles that comment on COVID; for Boomers who kept their jobs, exploring online art auctions to add to their collections.

WA-based textile artist, Emma Buswell's "Smashed avocado green sweater" went viral after featuring WA Premier Mark McGowans' quote, "there's nothing unlawful about going for a run and eating a kebab". Early in the lockdown, police in NSW had fined a jogger for stopping to eat a kebab while out running. Asked if a kebab fine would be issued in WA, Premier Mark McGowan had a laughing fit and Buswell turned it into art.

While individuals may be supporting the arts more than ever, Buswell believes the government needs to pull their weight too.

The Chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Lorraine Tarabay says "art has therapeutic benefits" and has been key to supporting anxious Australians through the health crisis. The MCA had an influx of traffic to their website in 2020 as art lovers used virtual exhibitions to fill the cultural void created by COVID.

Gallery doors have recently reopened (the MCA visitors are presently around 30 per cent of pre-COVID numbers) and Tarabay believes the museum will play a significant role in helping Sydney bounce back as a cultural hub.


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