Humpty on a wall, From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Illustrated by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

It’s been a year of upheaval. Flux and change. Things will never be the same again. Just like humpty dumpty, we can’t put the pieces of this year together in a way that resemble a normal year. And there is no going back to what was.

We read the news about change on a global scale. 1 million deaths globally, 100,000 new cases every day. One in five businesses will never reopen. It’s the personal impact behind the figures that bite. Like a friend in the art studios whose mum died.

Two strips of canvas stitched together with brown and pink thread

A new beginning for us all.

What we do know though is major change is followed by renewal. I was thinking of this while I stitched two pieces of scrap canvas together to form a new hybrid. What does it mean for us as we pull our fractured lives together? For me, there is surprising hope. There are new ways of doing things in the post-COVID world.

Galleries are finding new ways to reach their audience. Students are finding new ways to study. Restaurants are finding new ways to look after their customers. Friends are finding new ways of getting together. I’ve found new ways to create new artworks.

Waving good bye to the family farm.

In all this, my mum and dad are selling the family farm. They’ve lived there for almost 50 years. It’s the house I grew up in. The house I discovered my love of drawing – on paper, on walls, on the back of cupboard doors, on cement with a brush dipped in water. It’s the house I plastered with cut-out pictures from magazines.

Strangely, I don’t have feelings of loss like I thought I would. I’m not mourning my childhood. It’s fantastic for my folks to be moving somewhere new, closer to the sea. And all the glorious memories are still in us, they’re not tied to the weatherboards of the old house.

I can see my brother falling over in pig shit in his school clothes right before going to school. I remember stepping into the shower to find the remains of a possum that the cat had eaten during the night. I hear dead cows letting out ghostly bellows as we cremate them in the paddocks.

They’re not just memories. These experiences have shaped who we are; me, my brothers, my mum and dad. Anyone who meets us – meets the people and personalities shaped by this country.

2020 is a year of renewal.

It’s been a crazy year. A year of seismic shifts in health, politics, business, art and science. Nothing has been left untouched. Yet with it all is new stuff. Rapid experimentation. I’ve seen it with my art practice. And we’re seeing it all around us. The communities we live are regrouping and moving forward, together.

We need to focus on the path ahead. As we step down that road, we’ll carry the year with us in our bones. And when we meet, when we can finally embrace again, we’ll be embracing old friends with a new carapace.

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