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  • Ray Monde

Got COVID cabin fever? 5 ways to artfully plan your escape

At this point in self-isolation things start going crazy, off-piste. Somewhere between the half-way and three-quarter mark, people get wobbly. It happens to astronauts, cosmonauts and people wintering in Antartica.

I blame the dreaded third-quarter for HAL9000 losing his shit. For us at home, it’s manifested itself as some very unusual interpretive dancing and an unhealthy obsession with hot sopressata.

One of the last exhibitions I saw was John Akomfrah’s remarkable Future History at Seattle Art Museum.

I went in search of some art distraction online – and this is what I found – which I think you’ll love.

1. Crossing Lines; Basquiat-Haring at NGV.

Crossing Lines, the Haring-Basquiat show, at the National Gallery of Victoria is a masterpiece in gallery immersion.

You can walk through the gallery space, stopping to listen to audio guides or watch video projections. You can stand right in front of your favourite works and relish it without the prospect of someone stepping in front of you.

If you have a VR headset, even basic ones like Google Cardboard, the experience is even better.

While, as John McDonald says, you can’t get a feel for the texture in a virtual environment, but it’s pretty damn good showing from the NGV while we’re trapped at home.

Dr Christian Thompson AO, Museum of Others (Othering the Explorer, James Cook), 2016, c-type print on metallic paper 120 x 120 cm, edition of 6 +2AP

2. Navigating Cook at Michael Reid.

It’s the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook charting the East Coast of Australia. Lots of people are simply avoiding having a conversation around this event.

It’s a conversation we need to have. The National Museum of Australia is bringing together first-hand accounts of Cook’s journey.

Michael Reid has curated a compelling exhibition Navigating Cook where archival books, and maps associated with early exploration  are juxtaposed with a series of new works from fifteen contemporary artists to chart a nation’s changing attitudes to Cook’s first contact.

It’s only through having difficult conversations can we move forward together.

3. Grayson Perry’s Art Club.

Unless you live in the UK, or have clever ways of getting Channel 4 to think you live in the UK, you won’t be able to watch Grayson Perry’s Art Club.

But I totally love this idea. Grayson leads art classes and gets people to send art on a particular theme each week. You can get a preview of what it’s like here on YouTube.

It’s a particularly personal beautiful way to connect with art when we’re stuck at home. Makes me almost feel like I’m cuddling Alan Measles right now.

4. Take a walk through the Rijks Museum.

Even if we could never travel again, we can visit some of our favourite museums through Google Arts and Culture. I particularly like the way they have broken the Rijks virtual tour into different sections, depending on what you love – paper, etchings, baroque.

My favourite is the detailed gaze on particular works, like The Milkmaid. In fact, you can get much closer this way than the artwork in real life. You can choose a new artwork to visit every day.

5. Buy artwork for yourself.

I know I have been banging on about this for a little while. Even though we are in the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression, if you can buy art, buy art now. Artists and galleries need your help now more than any time.

Check out The Other Online Studios or Ray Monde’s work (wink, wink) at Purple Noon Gallery or Michael Reid.

Dan Kyle has a bushfire inspired new show Up In Smoke at Martin Browne Contemporary ; you can still catch Dean Cross, A Sullen Perfume at Yavuz Gallery.

I also am finding Harley Manifold’s workstrangely comforting in these isolating times.

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