“Days kept bleeding into each other and it seemed like it was one big blob of time that didn’t have any meaning to it,” she says.
But art, she says, was a helpful coping mechanism.
“Being able to express myself and just doodle… I could definitely see it helped me a lot because it’s an outlet,” she says. “Just drawing lines, it makes me feel better.”
Juliette has entered her self-portrait in a competition, run by Melbourne art school Art Encounters and Derwent Pencils, with an $8000 prize pool. Named “My World At Home”, the contest is asking young artists aged 5-18 to reflect on their experience of the last few months and create a piece of art that depicts what life has looked like for them during COVID-19.
“She chose the bit that meant she got to spend time with her dad and saw the positive that she learnt this new thing,” says mum Mandi Baker. “She drew herself in her happy place and the smile on her face just makes me tear up.”
Tilly is stoked with her skateboard (“It made me feel faster than anybody else.”) and says she enjoyed isolation because she “could get food whenever I wanted” and had plenty of time for art, music and drama.
Baker says she finds her daughter’s work reassuring.
“As a parent going through this we worry endlessly about their wellbeing,” she says. “So for her to interpret this three-month period with a totally joyful, nostalgic drawing… it makes me hopeful.”
Dena Lester, Art Encounters director, says entries are pouring in ahead of the competition’s August 9 deadline and has noticed sadness and loneliness in the works, as well as happiness, and it can differ by age group.
“The younger children are still very much living in the moment… whereas teenagers are entering into a [different] phase of their life.”
Registered clinical art therapist Anna Kellerman says art is a powerful tool for kids as it helps them process feelings, brings joy, and delivers a sense of achievement.
“It’s an opportunity to express their emotions and their making sense of the world around them in a non-confrontational, age-appropriate way.”
Kellerman, who has been running some kids workshops, says she isn’t surprised by art’s popularity during COVID-19 and says the process of making art is “meditative”. She adds that reflection is important to cultivate in children.
“Having time to reflect is how we can learn and it is very powerful.”
Get our Morning & Evening Edition newsletters
Sophie is Deputy Lifestyle Editor for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.