Wendy Murray is a Sydney based artist who shares her time between Australia and the US, specifically Los Angeles. Having recently left the Southern Hemisphere for LA, she returned home earlier this month – via two weeks in NZ Government quarantine.
Her work addresses social and political issues through exquisite line drawings, poster making and public art. The poignancy of these quarantine drawings – all created from the increasingly stifling walls of Room 1003 of the Pullman Hotel, Auckland – develops steadily and without guile as the days eke past.
“The nurse calls by every day to take my temperature and ask how I’m feeling – both physically and mentally. I’m feeling good today. I have windows that open…. and luckily, I have a pretty nice view, looking out to the back of Auckland city. So, from my front window I can see a splash of green in the foreground, some buildings in the middle ground, and Mt Eden in the distance. Here’s my view from the other end of my room.”Wendy Murray
To begin with, the novelty of “14 days on your own – with food delivered to your door!” is delicately rendered in a series of room service portraits:
“My food gets dropped at the door, three times a day, in a brown paper bag. They knock – then run. I was super excited this morning when I got (what I thought!) was a coffee with a big ‘W’ (for Wendy) on it! Turns out I’d forgotten to order my morning coffee and this was the WHOLE milk to go with my cereal…”The artist
Sequestered on the 10th with other passengers on Flight NZ5 from LAX, Murray instigated a drawing competition for other quarantined guests, judging it herself. And while this clearly is a welcome diversion during her time in lockdown, she also dips into her emotional state with social media posts like this:
“It’s not like [14 days of time to myself] at all. My head isn’t clear and focused on the 100 things I have here on my ’to do’ list… it looks like this jigsaw puzzle I still haven’t finished. #scatteredWendy Murray
And things get creepy in the lifts in a modern-day parody of every hotel horror movie ever…
“The first day I had trouble with the left side lift – I couldn’t get up onto the 10th floor. The police couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I said I thought the lift was broken to the 10th floor. It really is tricky to communicate six feet apart, when it’s your first time out of the hotel room, you’re anxious & everyone has masks on. Actually… I’ve noticed, the hotel staff, police & NZ Defense Force folks stay well away from us…. it’s great they’re so cautious.
“On Monday I caught the broken lift down & they’d put this black cross on my level. Yesterday I noticed that they had completely covered the button with black duct tape. Today is Day 9.”Wendy Murray
Drawing has always been the foundation of Murray’s arts practice but it wasn’t until 2010 that she committed to daily drawing practice. This series, however, shows so much more than everyday life. It shows the emotion and anxiety that shrouds our Covid reality like an infected shawl.
But there are moments of lightness – a feather on the pavement photographed in a moment outside; hotel-standard quarantine ID; and the minutiae of life.
And the final image in the series is a shot of the artist’s phone, the date and time she left quarantine and the tenth floor of the Pullman Hotel. It radiates hope, resolve and excitement for a new day.
“My leaving time was 10:30am. I was packed, masked, holding my bags & standing at the door of my room from 10:24am.
Ben picked me up…. the NZDF had ‘checked him in’ to the parking area … & had drawn my room number on the side window of his car: 1003.”Wendy Murray