I ventured into Victoria yesterday. I was delivering a load of paintings to the owner of Koopman’s Gallery in Dunkeld. I could only travel seventy kilometres into the state so she met me at a little town called Coleraine where we exchanged the goods.
It was quite a procedure to get there: an early-morning application and subsequent approval from SA Police and a COVID test before departing with a requirement to repeat weekly. Once I’d surreptitiously handed over the art work (maskless – oops) I felt like I’d been involved in some clandestine drug deal.
It is certainly a bizarre time when Australian state borders are closed or have limited penetrability. We are so accustomed to freedom of movement in our country that the flashing ROAD CLOSED sign coming into South Australia was slightly disturbing. It was a reminder, in this state where the Coronavirus is partially disappearing into memory and social distancing seems a product of mere politeness, that the world is still in turmoil. Increasingly so.
I am yet to see today whether Victoria has had a third consecutive count of zero new cases. From afar, this seems like an extraordinary achievement. I have no doubt it has also been arduous. And long. And destructive. But, perhaps, successful. I am overwhelmed, can barely understand, the rates of infection in other parts of the world. May our isolation protect us a little.
And so, as I head to the studio to paint trees in crazy colours, I wonder whether I should be creating some sort of artistic response to this phenomenon that is, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime event. On the other hand, there are others better equipped to do that and trees are a little bit alive and hopeful. I’ll probably stick to the usual modus operandi, now that I think about it.