COVID-19 for dummies

 

Destiny Deacon Over the Fence from the series Sad & Bad

Destiny Deacon Over the Fence 2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors’ Program 2001. © Destiny Deacon. Licensed by Copyright Agency

Destiny could see our destiny. Only two people are allowed to catch up at any given time. You get to pick one human. Sorry about that if you live in a family. Looks like the favourite family member is going to become apparent real quick. Stay on your side of the fence, footpath, aisle or any other shared space. It’s no better over my side of the fence, promise. So stay there. Thanks.

Harry Tjutjuna Wanka (Spider)

Harry Tjutjuna Wanka (Spider) 2011. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors’ Group 2012. © Harry Tjutjuna, courtesy Ninuku Arts. Licensed by Copyright Agency

Take a leaf out of Harry Tjutjuna’s book and be Spider Man. Artist Harry Tjutjuna is a very powerful Ngankari (traditional healer). We won’t ever be as powerful as him but we can look after those around us. Wanka (Spider) is a Ngankari who is tasked with the responsibility of looking after all the women and children, as seen in this dynamic and colourful painting. Be Spider Man, be a Wanka. Look after those around you.

Trudy Inkamala Woman with Dilly Bags 2019. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors’ Group 2019. © Trudy Inkamala

Before COVID-19 shopping madness: full dilly bags and happy people. Old Polly always made sure that, whenever she had a full dilly bag, she would share with her family. Providing for her family and sharing made her happy

Marlene Rubuntja Woman with Dilly Bags and Dilly Bag Hat 2019. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors’ Group 2019. © the artist, courtesy Yarrenyty Arltere Artists

Listen up COVID-19 doomsday-prepper shopaholics! This woman has got nothing in her dilly bags. Now she has gone nuts too and wears her empty dilly bag on her head. Stop your hoarding madness, she needs to go shopping and she is a bit slower than you. Look at her, poor thing! She understand your worry, she has had many days when she hasn’t been able to feed her family. She knows that fear. She also knows about social isolation, ’cause she is so often marginalised in her own town and knows what it feels like to not have a job. She understands. But she would never let someone else go without if she could share. Slow down and make sure everyone has something in their dilly bags.

Crusoe Kurddal Mimih spirit 1985. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1985. © Crusoe Kurddal. Licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd

From now on you don’t live under a rock, you live in it. Just like Mimih spirits, make your own world inside the rocks and stay there! Mimihs are cheeky spirits who get up to no good when they slip into this world through the cracks of the rocks, just like you do when you re-emerge from your home. Imagine COVID-19 is a massive wind storm and you are a Mimih. If you go outside, your delicate little neck might snap! So wait until the wind storm has passed then you can come out and perform in your usual profane manner.

Lola Ryan Sydney Harbour Bridge 2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Peter Fay 2010. © Estate of the artist

Remember when we could go to the beach, Sydneysiders? Before Bondi-goers decided to show the world that they don’t care about COVID-19 social distancing and we all got banned? Well, Lola and her family know those beaches so well that they could tell you what types of shells would wash up on specific beaches after specific weather patterns. Let’s pay that much attention to our social distancing and then we can create art from what we learn about surviving COVID-19 together!

Unknown Gupapuyngu birrkili bati (spear) (circa 1950s) IA102.1962

Unknown Gupapuyngu birrkili bati (spear) circa 1950s. Art Gallery of New South Wales, purchased 1962

This beautiful ceremonial spear with intricate decorative spearhead is the distance you need to have between you and people who you don’t live with, if and when you are out in public.