Our first COVID-19 winter was a time riven by doubt, suffering and existential uncertainty. For many, those experiences hampered, at least initially, our creative inclinations. However, with the benefit of hindsight, the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic have come to be associated with unexpected creativity. For me, a routine of visitation, documentation and mixed-media making provided a creative outlet to try and make some sense of the mass disruption we faced.
Place, it has been said, is a site of self-identification (Gibson, 2015c) and where meaning is made (Plumwood, 2008) and so it was for me. Each day of that arduously uncertain first COVID-19 winter, all ninety-two of them, I visited Cape Paterson’s Bay Beach, an unpredictably beautiful and endearing parochial place on Australia’s southeast coastline. Using a routine guided by respectful visitation (Muecke, 2008) and aesthetic noticing (Brasier, 2017), I scribbled notes and took Polaroid photographs to document different aspects of that personally significant place. Heeding Ann Hamilton’s (2010) call to work from what you know but also what you don’t know, it was a routine that embraced ambiguity, imprecision and the affordances offered within mixed-form making methods.
The resultant work, ‘92 days of winter: swimming, walking and watching’, encompasses lyrical mixedmedia amalgamations chronicling a particular place, its character, and its indifference to a time of immense disruption. This essay offers a self-reflexive examination of how uncertainty, imperfection and hybrid making practices can offer affecting creative prompts when interrogating the complex, intimate and contested nature of personally significant places.