“I want people to not be anxious and think, ‘Oh, I’m going to f— it up’. There are many steps backwards and forwards.”
Institutions whose physical doors have been shuttered the past few months are experimenting with online workshops. Vaughan’s tutorial is the first by six individual artists being made for Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.
“We’re trying to keep it quite simple,” says ACCA artist educator Andrew Atchison. The videos will be between nine and 13 minutes long. “The artist will work through a technique or process derived from their practice. They will show how to do it but also talk about why it’s interesting to them or what conceptually underpins it.”
Teachers and art students have told Atchison they are hungry for interactions with artists. The pre-recorded videos include information about the artist’s practice and exhibitions. They will stay free for the general public – and will outlast the lockdown.
During the pandemic, Gunditjmara-Torres Strait artist Lisa Waup has adapted her role as programs co-ordinator at Mornington Indigenous art centre Baluk Arts by sending out art materials kits to the centre’s artists and emailing links to video tutorials.
“People at home at this time are really craving to do something creative,” says Waup. “We’re going to look into extending this.”
Waup’s own practice of weaving and printmaking nods to her Indigenous heritage and the Italian-Australian family who raised her in Melbourne.
On Wednesday at 6pm, the National Gallery of Victoria’s curator of Indigenous art, Hannah Presley, will interview Waup in her Wheelers Hill home studio on Instagram Live as part of Reconciliation Week.
Writers, too, are reaping the workshop harvest. Jane Bodie, a playwright who emigrated from London to Melbourne in 1996 and whose plays include Music, Hinterland and This Year’s Ashes, has been offering masterclasses via Facebook for a COVID-19 “special price” of $20 per session.
“I made it ridiculously cheap, so all could do even if they’d lost work or jobs,” she says, “to make a session the equivalent of a good bottle of wine.”
Bodie also runs online masterclasses for Theatre Works’ She Writes.
“I feel there’s less of a hierarchy, in terms of emerging versus established writers right now,” says Bodie, currently in London caring for a parent.
“We’re all stuck inside our homes, or somebody else’s home, trying to think, clear our heads, feed ourselves and keep on making stuff.
“We’re all grappling with the same questions about the current world and looking to find meaning in it. Writing about it just might do that.”
Steve Dow is an arts writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.