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An Australian artist has captured life under shutdowns in these dainty watercolour paintings

'Social Distancing' literally paints a picture of everyday Australian life during shutdown.

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse

The 2020 shutdown has had a dramatic effect on life in Australia. No one has been spared the upheaval in day-to-day life which has changed the way we live, shop, socialise and work. 

That massive change in the mundane has been captured in watercolours by artist Margaret Ackland. The Sydney-based painter has paired with Melbourne’s Flinders Lane Gallery for an online exhibition titled Social Distancing – an ongoing series of works that quite literally paint a picture of life over the last six weeks. 

'Social Distancing #3 - Stay Apart ', Margaret Ackland 2020,
'Social Distancing #3 - Stay Apart ', Margaret Ackland 2020, Photograph: Supplied / Flinders Lane Gallery

The placid watercolours feel displaced from time, a feeling that many of us can relate to at the moment. The figurative works depict scenes that have become familiar sights. But alongside paintings of taped-off playgrounds, supermarket staff sanitising trolleys and baskets, and 1.5-metre floor markings are more domestic everyday scenes reflecting on Ackland’s daily life during the shutdowns. 

'Heros', Margaret Ackland 2020
'Heros', Margaret Ackland 2020Photograph: Supplied / Flinders Lane Gallery

“It's my habit to begin each day with a watercolour reflection on the state of things around me,” Ackland says in her artist statement. “I've been comforted by small pleasures; knitting, cooking and our sunny balcony but saddened to see empty shelves and abandoned playgrounds, birthdays celebrated alone and embraces from afar.”

'Social Distancing #9 - Birds do it ', Margaret Ackland 2020
'Social Distancing #9 - Birds do it ', Margaret Ackland 2020Photograph: Supplied/ Flinders Lane Gallery

The series of paintings are an ongoing endeavour, with Ackland continuing to add to the digital exhibition as she produces new works. Head over to Flinders Lane Gallery’s website to view the exhibition.

More iso-art: check out these photographs of Melbourne taken at the height of the shutdowns

Support Australian creatives by purchasing prints from this online art collective

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