One of that group’s notable practitioners is acclaimed cartoonist, writer and artist Michael Leunig.
While acknowledging the hardship some have experienced, the National Living Treasure says he was able to divorce himself from all of the clamour that came with the COVID-19 pandemic and do what he normally does - find the whimsical and lightness in events around us.
“It’s obviously been a very peculiar year but I think the peculiarity has been massively over-inflated and exaggerated and everyone was expected to feel terrible,” he said. “Just to take it in your stride is the best way I found to deal with it. All years are pretty peculiar in their own way, but of course I recognise that some people have been alarmed and distressed in ways that I haven’t I guess.
“There has been a good side to it all. I liked the slowing down and the quiet roads… but anyway, who knows what next year’s going to bring and the year after and the year after that.”
2021 will bring Leunig to Queenscliff.
Queenscliff Gallery will this month host Humour of the Heart, a selection of paintings that have no particular theme, according to Leunig, but rather reflect his approach to creating a picture - a process he’s described as ‘messy, mystical and primal.’
Fittingly for the year just gone, one of the paintings, a joyous coloured canvas, is titled ‘Once in a Lifetime.’ (Pictured).
“For me it’s a playful thing to do, to make a painting, and it’s almost prayerful if you like. I don’t mean to sound earnest, but it’s an interior state and it’s engagement with colour and form.”
“It’s such a lovely antidote to the woes of the world. It’s a bit like those who make a garden, you know it’s always there for you. To have your canvas and your solitude and your peace and materials, you can do this until you die,” he says.
“I never went to art school or anything, I’m just one of those self taught painters and that’s all it it, there’s no grand theme or narrative to my pictures,” he says.
“It’s think it’s important to be able to not have and to be content with more simple things. We are a society consumed with consumption and doing things and getting things. It’s good to make a bit of a stand against those things.”
It’s not Leunig’s first local show. He has a fondness for Queenscliff born out of his long friendship with former resident and fellow cartoonist Ron Tanberg, who died in January 2018.
“I came down to see Ron a few times. Me and Ron worked together for a long time and when I say together, I mean the next desk. We shared a lot of deadline panic together and we were pretty close,” he said.
“What’s good about Queenscliff is it’s not exactly out of the way but it is out of the way. It seems to be it’s own little neck of the woods,” he said.
Leunig’s exhibition will run until January 25.