The Art of Isolation

A positive response to the current COVID-19 restrictions

Text: Liz Hansman

Despite the new worry about our health, dreadful loss of jobs, new restrictions and rules to live by, I feel , if we look, there is a little silver in the lining of this awful coronavirus cloud.

Although we are confined at home, our normal activities shelved, there seems an atmosphere of quiet, less hurried living now, which offers us opportunities , especially of time. For many of us, time is now abundant, – to contemplate, to catch our breaths, to exercise, take up hobbies, to read, or even write a book,  and perhaps  to shorten our “To Do ” lists!

From the radio the other day , came a suggestion from Spence Denny: “Let us counteract the virus by thinking of all the things the virus cannot change in the world, nor prevent us from seeing, remembering or doing if it gives us joy.”

For example, Bright, lovely weather, views of beautiful sights, the constancy of the ocean, the appearance of stars at night and sun in the morning. Gardens, Books, wood to work with,etc.

Therefore, I thought we might consider this Art of Isolation . Please join me! Now is the perfect time to practice this creative “art”. 


              “THE  ART  OF  ISOLATION”

1. IN THE GARDEN – Wandering, gazing, inspecting, revelling, enjoying, breathing in and out! Cutting, digging, raking, pruning, planting, watering. fertilising, mulching. Reading, eating, drinking, tasting, bbqing

I am lucky to have a garden in which to wander and do all of the above.
Roses are out, limes and lemons are forming and other crops of citrus too.
I plan to plant some Winter vegetables, and make a worm farm.

2. PLACES TO GO – We are allowed to exercise in parks at the moment.
It has always been pleasurable for me to  walk in parks, enjoying the longer vistas, the varied trees.  Now, with my dog Kobe, in this isolation phase, we visit places near our home and appreciate even more the joy of fresh air, our well known trees , the soft green grass and wide skies.   Each time is a small, new adventure for us both.

Whilst Kobe runs with obvious excitement, sniffing, rolling, tongue lolling, ears forward in anticipation of discovery, I don’t!
I have time to relax, strolling, with pauses beneath the grandness of enormous, ancient eucalypts, noble stands of elms and soaring pines.

We hear kookaburras laughing, magpies carolling, and the mad gangs of rainbow lorikeets screeching as they swing on their red bottlebrush lunches.
We rarely meet anyone. occasionally Harry, Kobe’s best tennis ball destroyer friend.
Harry’s owner and I stand 2 metres apart, but the dogs are still learning about distance.
I plan to keep going daily as long as rules allow.

3. THE ODD JOBS – Start with a list!
Last week, while watering the garden, all the jobs I have been procrastinating over for months (or years) rueing the lack of time suddenly seemed possible!   I made a list! (Anything requiring a ladder was abandoned)

THE VERANDAH, RAMP, LONG STEPS – wood is much weathered- needs oiling.
Remove all furniture including dog kennel from verandah. Buy oil, special mop and container. Lovely, helpful girl at shop put everything in the trolley – we kept 2 metres apart.!   I paid.
Sweep, hose down verandah etc. Leave two days to dry. Open tin, stir well, pour, paint. Done! I plan to put a small table and chairs on the verandah so I can  read books in the sun .


GRANDMOTHER’S KITCHEN CUPBOARD – Long deserving TLC -it needs a paint and polish.
My Grandparents married in November 1896 in Burra.  Grandmother Maggie Lally took a nice little cedar cupboard with her on the dray when she and her few boxes, went to her new home in Armagh, just outside Clare. The cupboard must have really enhanced the old lathe and daub walled kitchen which had only an earthen floor, subsequently shone to gleaming by the bare feet of the eleven children born to grandmother and grandfather.


There have been changes to this old piece which grandma loved so much – lost its original doors, now only 2 ply, but the top and drawer front with original iron fittings and the body, are still intact.  I did not know my grandmother, but I love pulling out the drawer and thinking of her using it. I wonder what she put in it? My plan is to house the dog and cat food, bbq utensils, mosquito coils and  garden lanterns.

4. COLLECTIONS – Some of us are Collectors!  For better or worse we have discovered that finding many similar items, and bringing them together, brings a satisfaction that can grow and grow with each addition! Collecting gives joy and excitement.

Once decided on a subject , collecting is a search and find adventure that can be practiced anywhere , even all around the world . Which is often how the collections grow and become more meaningful as travellers bring back souvenirs as memories to augment their collection. Some of us don’t know when or how to  stop.! Perhaps we only stop collecting one thing when we begin collecting another! What about you?

As we are all spending extra time in our own houses recently, it seemed appropriate to begin this “Art of Collection” with some miniature houses and other houses in art.

Here is part of my small  collection. And some from my cousin Pam .
Can you guess where our houses are from?  We would love to see any “ houses” collected by you! Please send in the pictures and say where they are from.

Do you have your own suggestions for living in times of isolation and social distancing which you can share?

Contact us at or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.

Sorry, our History Centre is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions