On My Mind: Artists With Us in Isolation

If you miss connecting with us in person, you are not alone. Working from home, the team here sorely misses being amongst the creative inner workings of Arts Project Australia. It’s no secret, however, that art’s power traverses time and space, carrying on in our consciousness at a distance during trying times. Three of Arts Project Australia’s own reflected on artists and art that are on their mind in isolation, inspiring them to relish connection until it becomes physical once again.    

Sarah Wood  /  Gallery Administrator

Hunched over at my desk, I draw my eyes away from my screen for a little reprieve. From the corner of my eye, I glimpse a pop of colour brightening my now familiar and quiet workspace. I’m constantly drawn to my Emily Dober work that adorns my white wall. It has a mesmerising effect making one move to the electric pencil markings scrolled across the page. Like the elegantly frocked dancer in Dober’s collage I have to throw on some tunes and kick up my heels. Her vibrant and playful work reminds me to take a break from the constant news cycle and connect to positive things happening in the world and right here at APA.

Emily Dober, Not titled, 2017, collage; ink; pastel; pencil on paper, 28 x 38 cm

Michael Schwarz  /  Board Member

When I could go to Arts Project Australia, I would catch up with Michael Camakaris and Mark Smith. Both have been making art for a long time and are creative, enthusiastic and versatile artists. I would also often bump into them at the National Gallery of Victoria or at the theatre. Now that we can’t meet, I look around my home and have conversations with them through their artworks.

I hadn’t realised how prescient Michael’s practice is. The first works I acquired from Michael were etchings from his ‘Nuclear Family’ series in 2017. Each work depicts a family member wearing a gas mask whereby Michael wryly comments on issues of climate change. Looking at these works today, he could be describing the dangerous world of COVID-19 with the need for self-protection and social distancing to combat an invisible enemy.

I also enjoy daily Mark’s extraordinary ceramic works. One work depicts two people sitting together, back to back with legs and arms outstretched. Neither can see the other but they are clearly supporting each other. Another of Mark’s works has a woman doing the splits, chest thrust out, head thrown back and arms in a triumphant gesture –she is celebrating ‘the moment’. Another work spells out ‘IMPROVABLE,’ Mark affirming that however difficult or challenging life can be, it is always ‘improvable’.

Michael and Mark’s art is a constant reminder that we are still connected until we catch up again – hopefully soon!

James McDonald  /  Studio Manager

One of the many things I miss most while we’re all working remotely is the warm greetings I receive each morning as the artists make their way into the Studio. I miss Chris Mason asking after my wife and cats, before reeling off some new and interesting facts regarding Balinese Green Tree Pythons. Kate Knight sharing news of a new addition to her family, increasing the pressure on her to maintain ‘best aunt’ status.  Jordan Dymke telling me about a big family event where he D.J’d, danced and drank one too many. Cathy Staughton calling in to check that my tech is up to date and working. Michael Licenblat explaining the reasons for his uniform choice for the day. By the time everyone has said hello and settled in, I turn back to my computer, knowing all the while how lucky I am to work where I do.

Love from the Studio is a series of interviews and articles bringing you behind the scenes of Arts Project Australia. 

Edited by Tahney Fosdike, Marketing & Communications Coordinator at Arts Project Australia.


  • Michael Camakaris slideshow:  Series Nuclear Familiar, 2017, drypoint on paper, 15 x 10 cm 
  • Mark Smith slideshow: Improvable, 2019, earthenware and glaze, 14 x 95 x 6 cm; Not titled, 2019, earthenware and glaze, 14.5 x 14.5 x 31.5 cm; Not titled, 2015, earthenware and glaze, 19 x 30 x 25 cm.
  • Final slideshow: Chris Mason, Sorong Green Tree Python (Manisnya Hujan) (female) means sweet the rain in Indonesian, 2018, mixed media, 35 x 30 x 25 cm; Cathy Staughton, Cathy big green Apple fun play IPhone kiss eat me Justin, 2008, 70 x 50 cm;  Michael Licenblat, Uniform Colour Change, 2018, greylead pencil on paper, 25 x 32.5 cm