Lab Three

Art in the time of Corona, 2021

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

– Charles Darwin


COVID-19 has had a major impact on our communities. Dislocation, isolation, loss of work, loss of space, loss of identity, social distancing, the fear of contracting the illness, and a prolonged exposure to stress, particularly in society’s most vulnerable sectors, has taken its toll. And while restrictions are lifting and there is an increasing sense of hope, many are living with the psychological symptoms of post-traumatic stress, preferring not to go out, feeling anxious in social situations, questioning our sense of identity – the list is endless.

If you look hard enough, there are good news stories that have punctuated the gloom, and Australia has arguably weathered the storm better than many other countries. Within the inner west, the crisis has been meted out across communities that already have a sense of collaborative strength: people care for each other, care for the slice of the world they inhabit, and seek to do the best for society at large. Food banks, charity donations and outreach groups are championing a people-focused recovery, and that in itself is inspiring.

There is considerable research emerging that considers the powerful impact that creativity has as a buffer against the negative effects of living through a period of crisis and intense social and emotional upheaval, as well as a tool in the practice of meaning-making.

Creativity has a vital role in future projection too, in placemaking, in policy decision-making, in futuring scenarios, area zoning and broad-spectrum societal infrastructure, and the hiatus caused by a global pandemic shifted the focus on this considerably. Locked down, hidden away, alone, creativity and the global entertainment industry was our salve.

Lab Three

inSIGHT Lab’s third foray into the creative and cultural wealth of the inner west investigates the creativity that has not just survived the pandemic but thrived. Behind the closed rollers and shuttered spaces of the creative spaces of the inner west the arts practices of hundreds of creatives continue unassailed. We are experts at adaptation, pivoting like demented ballerinas in our day-to-day, and adept at navigating the fluid nature of this industry.

Read on for just a taste of what’s been happening…

Tortuga Studios

Tortuga Studios has a large-scale installation event in production, with numerous artists creating works for GLITCH: a playground of the apocalypse to be exhibited as part of EDGE Sydenham 2022, including industrial sculptors, multimedia artists, sound artists, light artists, projection artists and more.

“Weighted girders and riveted steel arc upwards into a night sky, organic shapes cast in rusted metal. Giant logs burn in iron cradles slung from the formwork branches of a skeletal tree; the crankshaft of a carousel creaks, its horses torn free; a clown careens off a rusted wreck, fear in her eyes; while a wrecking ball clangs on tethered chains.”


Legs on the Wall

Legs on the Wall has just announced the world premiere of an ‘epic’ outdoor show that is an artful call to act on climate together, with vigour and hope. THAW will premiere as part of Sydney Festival 14-16 Jan 2022, and it is a must see.

Inner West Council

Inner West Council won the prestigious Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture Award for its ground-breaking Gadigal Wangal Wayfinding Project:

“The Gadigal Wangal Wayfinding project describes components of Aboriginal history using visual means, and through a series of curated works, we celebrate the continuing presence of Aboriginal people within the inner west, deepen our connection to place, and enrich our knowledge of a pre- and post-colonised inner west.”

Inner West Council

Rhiannon Hopley

Acclaimed photographer Rhiannon Hopley described the work she undertook during COVID to inSIGHT Lab, and it’s an extensive list. Like many creatives, Rhiannon took advantage of being able to work in isolation at the creative space she is a part of – Tortuga Studios – the large footprint of which meant artists could easily work within all health and government guidelines.

Rhiannon is a artistic associate for Micro Galleries, an acclaimed global arts initiative that harnesses the global creative community to contribute ideas, work, and innovative solutions that explore and address critical social, political and environmental issues. As part of that role, she supported MG artists as they navigated COVID-19 and safeguarded their creativity.

In addition, she contributed to 2019 A Year Before Lockdown, in which Australian photographers and musicians collaborated in a ground-breaking collaboration that documents a year before Australia’s music industry was halted in its tracks.  A donation from every sale is directed to Support Act.

Her work is being exhibited in two consecutive exhibitions – Head On, Ballarat International Foto Biennale Number One Gudinski – and she was creative lead of global projection festival, Project Forward 2047.