A second pandemic year, mainly driven by the ‘Delta’ variant of COVID-19 saw Melbourne remain in a rolling series of lockdowns for 262 days. It was a much more difficult, disappointing year, professionally and privately. A planned show was cancelled, even before lockdowns rendered such events purely online affairs. The reasons remain mysterious. I did however participate in a group show titled ‘Don’t Say I Never Warned You, When Your Train Gets Lost’ (from a lyric by Bob Dylan) curated by colleague, Dr Michael Vale (Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Monash University) at the Stockroom Gallery in Kyneton (7th May – 24th June). Kyneton is a small, gentrified town in Central Victoria. I had not visited it before and was assured it had a quiet reputation for artistic adventure. It was about a two hour drive on a sunny winter’s day through rolling hills of what is now referred to as ‘The Tablelands’. I did not see a single table at large the whole day. The gallery is managed by the charming Magali Gentric and the show comprised seven other artists sharing Vale’s theme of absurdity. The state-wide lockdown somewhat muffled the reception. There was to be a reprise of the show at the Kingston Arts Centre (in suburban Melbourne) in September but that was postponed (due to lockdowns) until April 2022. Some consolation was inclusion in another group show at The Stockroom in June-August 2020 – ‘Every Artist Ever…’

Obviously there was not a lot to review for Melbourne Art Seen. I managed just two reviews, but struggled to find much of interest generally. I again managed three new series of digital sketches, VIGILANTES, LAND LEAST and RE: CYCLING, although intending only to do two. The third arose out of frustration with a painting programme continually interrupted by lack of supplies, due to lockdowns. In the end, I decided on a mad dash in December to complete the final eight small paintings before the end of the year – which I just managed! Although exhausting, I was satisfied with the results for SAMPLER-04.

In the middle of the year I again stepped away from pictures to write a short story. At that point time was on my side. KANGAROO COURTESY was another blend of science fiction and whimsical surrealism, about a policeman on special duties who falls for a touring rock star. Someone on Facebook actually read this one and more or less enjoyed it! I don’t know what that means exactly, since responses to my posts there have steadily dwindled over the year, to the point where it’s hardly worth bothering with. Instagram offers a slightly better return.