Everything changed

The current exhibition at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre explores artistic responses to some of the dramatic events of 2019 and 2020. This changes everything touches on the summer of 2019 and the catastrophic bushfires that devastated lives and landscapes across the country, and delves into the unprecedented shock to humanity as the global pandemic unfolded.

Curator Rilka Oakley has brought together local and nationally-renowned artists such as Eddie Abd, Merinda Davies, Sean O'Keeffe, Steven Oliver and Shan Turner-Carroll.

The artists in this exhibition explore the devastation, grief, frustration and anxiety of adjusting to a new day-to-day reality, as well as playfully engaging with this new world order.

Queensland-based artist Merinda Davies' artwork Imprints is a series of performances in which voluntary participants are enveloped in a hug by Davies who is fully equipped in medical personal protective equipment. Visitors to the gallery can see photographs and video documentation of her past performances, but ironically COVID restrictions postponed her personal performances.

For Davies the loss of physical connection to others has been one of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic.

"I realised early on in my experience of the pandemic that I navigate my way in the world through my physical connection to others. Touch, once synonymous with connection, love, desire, pleasure, care and comfort has become a weapon, a potentially lethal weapon," she said.

Blue Mountains-based artist Eddie Abd reflects on the situation of her family living in Lebanon, using an assemblage of photography, moving image and soundbites to recreate our anxieties for the safety of loved ones living overseas during the pandemic.

Curator Rilka Oakley said the exhibition "evolved out the changes I saw happening during the Black Summer bushfires. We were wearing masks, packing our bags, identifying our essential items. And then before we had recovered from this experience we went into the first COVID-19 lockdown, wearing masks, washing our hands and once again prioritising family."

The exhibition closes on Sunday, June 20.

Merinda Davies: Exploring touch via personal protective equipment.

Merinda Davies: Exploring touch via personal protective equipment.