Artists from around the world share their experiences of COVID in the Shepparton exhibition

Over the past year, artists from Shepparton to Tehran have worked together on a special project.

COVID-Collaborations: A Shared Step on a Long Journey opens Saturday at the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) in partnership with the Shepparton Festival.

The exhibition is the brainchild of renowned artist William Kelly, who wanted to bring people together at a time of great dislocation.

“At the end of 2020 it seemed like people were separated from each other: we couldn’t fly, we couldn’t visit, it was a very difficult time,” he said.

“So I thought, ‘Well, if we can bring ideas and people together somehow, that would be an interesting challenge’.”

Mr. Kelly, a resident of Nathalia, reached out to different visual artists and poets he knew or had worked with from around the world with an idea.

A special world exhibition is underway at the Shepparton Art Museum. (Supplied: SAM)

He would send them a preliminary image that he had created, a sort of template, and they could do whatever they wanted with it: write on it, draw on it, paint.

Mr. Kelly said it was wonderful to see what each artist would come back to.

“I had no idea what the results would be,” he said.

“The same experience is so varied, but they all reflect our world.”

Two works of art pasted side by side, both black and white with color streaks and illustrations and photographs
Two works that are part of the exhibition, by Edgar Heap of Birds (left) and Rochelle Patten (right).(Provided: Shepparton Art Museum)

COVID experiences around the world

There are 28 artists who have contributed to the project, sharing their views on how COVID has changed their particular part of the world.

Yorta artist Yorta Rochelle Patten contributed, along with Moroccan poet Samuel Elias Pritchard, American First Nations artist Edgar Heap of Birds and Scottish artist and scholar Mary Mundee.

“The exhibition highlights how we have managed to stay connected across borders, language and beliefs,” said SAM exhibition curator Jessica O’Farrell.

“William Kelly captured a snapshot of life around the world at the height of the pandemic and as we continue to live with COVID, the project highlights how far we’ve come.”

A crowd gathers at night to see a projection of artwork on the side of a building
Some of the works from COVID Collaborations were projected on the side of the museum last year during the Shepparton Festival. (Provided: Shepparton Art Museum)

The exhibit was originally scheduled to be shown during the Shepparton Festival last year, but COVID put a halt to the in-person art.

Determined to bring the show to the community in some way, the festival’s creative director, Jamie Lea, came up with the idea of ​​projecting six-meter-tall versions of some of the artwork onto the next to the new SAM building every night. .

“The works show a deep connection to a moment of individual struggle, resilience and personal growth.

Mr Kelly and is delighted that the full exhibit can now be opened to the public.

“As artists, we tend to want to share, share ideas and stuff. They’re pretty humble works, but they tell a very, very interesting story about that three-year period.”

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