Julie Keating - 'Conversations With Birds'
Wednesday 2 - Saturday 19 December 2020
"Conversations with Birds is an exhibition of paintings created during this strange year of isolation and disconnection.
In April this year, when the pandemic in Australia was really just beginning to foreshadow the extent of its potential to fundamentally change all our norms of social interaction, I took possession of an old house in the Western District.
The house was in need of substantial renovation and indeed, could only be described as having suffered from aggressive neglect. My expectations of being able to share the process with friends and family had been high. However, as autumn progressed into winter and the pandemic shut down Melbourne, it shut down all access to my friends and family in Melbourne and the Ring of Steel prevented anyone from coming down to visit me.
It was a strange and slow realisation that I was to become doubly isolated— isolated on my derelict 14-acre property and isolated from familiar human contact. The winter was long and full of endless physical tasks. I worked alongside my Uncle Tone, a farmer who knew what needed to be done and just got on it with it. Most days we drove for an hour to get there, worked all day and drove an hour to get back to the main farm, seeing nobody.
The fewer people I saw, the more I noticed the birds. As the weeks went on and the dreary tasks seemed without end, it was the birds who gave some interest to the ruined garden and decaying trees. It was to the birds that I explained what we were doing. It was to the birds that I told of the new trees that would be planted for them to enjoy. It was to the birds that I spoke of the joy and beauty of the landscape and bright dreams of a better future for all of us.
These ‘conversations with birds’ bought respite and pleasant distraction. These were the moments stolen from the mundane and endless work where I could take pleasure in noticing the trees, the light, the birds and of course, the stunning landscapes.
These paintings are all of the Western District, some from the new farm, some from the main farm and some from places travelled in between."
Julie Keating, November 2020