This artwork was originally published in the Queensland edition of The Saturday Paper 30 May 2020. Download and print your own A3 poster to enjoy at home!
Des Skordilis, Untitled, 2020, wax pastel on craft board
On the 14th of March I was sitting in a crowded theatre watching First Nations artists from across the globe perform as part of the opening week of the Biennale of Sydney, a week later I was working from home, alone in my small apartment maintaining my social life over zoom, and by the week following (in the absence of other humans) I’d formed a strange spiritual connection with the inner-city ibis that would make mid-morning visits to my window and indulging myself in over-elaborate plant-watering rituals. Life changed quickly, unexpectedly, and we all ended up spending a lot more time at home.
Des Skordilis explores this strange time in their untitled illustration commissioned for Making Art Work. Despite the frightening news reports, endless government press conferences and upward-trending infection graphs the sense of living through an unprecedented emergency in a country as lucky as ours had its silver-linings. Time opened up and spaces usually filled with frenetic deadlines and social bluster lay dormant. Traffic stopped. Sourdough was baked. School was at home. While we were physically distant from one another, the intensity of living through ~this~ brought us metaphysically together.
Des captures this domestic intimacy in their illustration through the use of geometric shapes and bold colours, evoking the nostalgic simplicity of childhood. The gentle texture of the crayon pastel leans into this mood and provides a nice analogy for the new detail that has emerged from our day-to-day spaces now that we have the time look. The central figure is engaged in an ambiguous action—embracing, creating, or caring—it’s not clear which, but the softness of the intent is inarguable.
In the same issue of the Saturday Paper that Des’s illustration was published, writer (and painter!) Patrick Hartigan reminded us that “Like a pandemic, great art stops us in our tracks”. Des’s work makes the same argument; there is a strength in stopping as it allows us to reconnect with our interior life. We make things, grow things and call our loved ones. We go forward gently and with compassion.
So, if there is one thing these unprecedented times have revealed it is the honest joy to be had making time for the things that truly matter. As the traffic restarts, and school-gates and cafes reopen, print this poster out and put it on your wall as a reminder to stop, reflect and smell the sourdough.
—Tulleah Pearce, IMA Associate Director
From an early age, Brisbane raised artist Des Skordilis had an innate ability to illustrate their feelings as a form of communication. It’s something evident in their current practice; one radiant with bold primary colours and charming bulbous figures that defy the rules of proportion. Traversing a diverse range of mediums—from digital illustration to drawing, painting, sculpting and stop motion animation—in doing so, Skordilis creates a small world of conceptual lines, block colour and joyful characters.