I’ve Missed You, But Not That Much by Emma Currie is the result of a new headspace, a new outlook on life, and a newfound appreciation for moving forward at a slower, steadier pace.
Created in Melbourne’s first lockdown earlier this year, this series of 10 vibrant artworks considers periods of isolation as a regenerative practice, necessary for fostering the kind of insight we need to examine ourselves and society critically. Elegantly balancing geometry with fluidity, the feminine figures in these vibrant artworks appear to relish their own company, lounging and luxuriating in quiet contemplation.
Earlier this year, before the effects of COVID changed our lives so profoundly, Emma was experiencing significant burnout. When the world went into lockdown, she was suddenly faced with more free time than she’d had in her entire adult life. ‘I felt that I had a choice: do I optimise on the time to make more and do more, or do I take the extra time alone as a rare opportunity to rest, reflect and just do nothing?’ she says.
Making the decision to ‘lean into solitude rather than avoid it’, Emma realised that she needed to reevaluate her relationship with productivity, and redistribute her energy. To prioritise reflection and flow over the hustle she’d grown so used to. This is the sentiment that I’ve Missed You, But Not That Much is imbued with.
We chatted with Emma to learn a little more about this gorgeous exhibition, and the thoughts behind it.
Hey Emma! It’s been a while since we caught up. And a lot has happened! How have you been going in the last six months?
I feel like there’s no straightforward answer to this at the moment. Overall I would say I’ve actually been fine! It’s been a really challenging time for a lot of reasons but I’m aware of my privilege, and am grateful to be experiencing all the ramifications of the pandemic from the comfort of my home, which is one of my favourite places to be anyway. I’m feeling lucky to have good health and to be able to paint everyday.
What has inspired the artworks in ’I’ve Missed You, But Not That Much’?
The premise for these paintings came about as a response to the overwhelming pressure to be productive I was feeling myself, and seeing echoed all over the internet at one point early on in isolation.
Earlier this year, I was experiencing pretty significant burnout. With a full-time day job and an emerging art practice on the side, I had at some point started to view every waking moment as an opportunity to optimise, and time had become an economic resource I could no longer justify spending on ‘nothing’. I was exhausted, but so used to this way of life that when lockdown hit and I was suddenly faced with more free time than I’d had my entire adult life, I couldn’t help but view it through the lens of its potential for optimisation. I found myself questioning my relationship to productivity and wondering if my fixation with ticking things off my extensive To Do lists had warped my sense of fulfillment and growth.
Pre-lockdown I was always overstimulated, so when I decided to slow down, rest and to lean into the solitude rather than avoid it, I realised that I needed to re-learn how to do nothing, how to be alone with my thoughts and how to marinate in my feelings, both positive and negative. It took me a while to stop feeling guilty, not only for doing things I considered unproductive, but also for enjoying silence and stillness, for allowing myself to focus on one thing at a time, and for embracing a much slower pace.
Although coming out of lockdown will be a huge relief, learning this was so invaluable, that I find I haven’t missed normal life much at all, which is what the title I’ve Missed You. But Not That Much refers to.
What other creative references do you draw on?
I draw on conversations around female identity and womanhood in popular culture quite a bit. The nuanced way womanhood is being written about and represented in books, essays, film and TV at the moment is really inspiring. There is increasingly more scope in popular culture for women who don’t fit traditionally established categories of femininity to tell their stories and represent their truths. I guess I find this so inspiring because I’m aiming to add to that dialogue in my own small way.
Where are you looking for good vibes at the moment?
The thought of enthusiastic reunions with friends! Also, the knowledge that even though we will return to normality eventually, we will inevitably be changed by this experience. The smallest things have been making me happy over the last six months – walks around my neighbourhood, bike rides by the Merri Creek, afternoons spent reading in a patch of sunlight by the window – things I was too busy to appreciate pre-COVID. Maybe after this, we won’t take so many of the small pleasures for granted.
What are your hopes for the future?
Coming out of lockdown will be an immense relief. But the lessons I have learned from this period of isolation have been so invaluable, I find that I haven’t missed ‘normal’ life much at all. My hope is that when eventually stability and certainty in our way of life returns, some of us may be less inclined to go back to the way things were. I definitely won’t be. Instead, I am choosing to move from hustle to flow, with plenty of time carved out for solitude in the future.
I’ve Missed You, But Not That Much by Emma Currie
An online exhibition presented by TDF Collect
September 8th – 24th, 2020