Art as an Act of Optimism
Art as An Act of Optimism is a retrospective of the #artsbundyathome initiative launched by Bundaberg Regional Galleries during the COVID-19 shutdown period.
This initiative was designed to reach out to isolated audiences and provide an opportunity for artists to share what was happening behind studio doors. The initiative also captured the interest of the general public, with people of all skill levels contributing images of photographs, sketches, sculptures, and paintings to social media platforms.
The key part of the initiative was the Daily Art Challenge. Every day, people were encouraged to create a response image to a topic. Over 800 images were tagged #artsbundyathome on Facebook and Instagram. The polaroids in this exhibition represent a selection of the response artworks received for the Daily Art Challenge, and reference the iconic Instagram frame.
For some artists, such as Jennifer McDuff, Susan Hutton, Emma Thorp, and Robert Andrews the Daily Art Challenge offered the opportunity to stimulate personal challenges within their practice to work with the topic given. It also gave the public an opportunity to see inside the artistic process and often, inside the creative hub of the artist’s studio, and it is this sense of voyeurism that is captured in the pop-up artist hubs within the gallery space.
The Recreate/Reimagine Challenge was also part of the #artsbundyathome initiative. This was launched as a joyful way to explore the Bundaberg Regional Galleries art collection, using Council’s Arts and Culture staff to recreate chosen artworks. When posted online, these images themselves initiated challenges to other artists, such as Raymon Singleton and Sue Hutton, to ‘recreate the recreations’, leading to a fascinating cyclic process.
Art as An Act of Optimism is ultimately an exhibition about the resilience of the arts in times of crisis. Across the globe, the arts sector has suffered incredible hardship during COVID-19 with the closing of theatres and galleries, and the loss of employment for thousands of artists and arts workers. However, despite this, artists have continued to create and to be creative in the way that they reach their audiences, using digital and social media platforms to bring theatre, exhibitions, and the visual arts to our lounge rooms. For Bundaberg Regional Galleries, Art as An Act of Optimism heralds this creativity and celebrates the ongoing contribution that the arts make to our global sense of optimism.