Don’t let yourself go: A Self-Help Guide to learning from lockdown

Self-isolation measures, including shutting the gallery’s physical doors, led Cement Fondu to launch a new digital exhibition, dubbed as a self-help guide for restricted living. For ‘Don’t let yourself go’ 13 Australian artists and art collectives were commissioned to share lessons, ideas and tools to help find solace and inspiration in suspended times – responding to various personal growth themes, from fitness to feeling sensual and staying connected.

Artists (self-help gurus) include Kenny Pittock, Giselle Stanborough, Sarah Goffman, Kawita Vatanajyankur, Jodie Whalen, Jen Jamieson, Amrita Hepi, The Motel Sisters, Mechelle Bounpraseuth Barilla, Jamaica Moana, Salote Tawale & Sidney McMahon, Shahmen Suku and JD Reforma.

Kenny Pittock, Apocalipso’s Set of 5 flavour icy poles, 2020, ceramic. Courtesy the artist and Cement Fondu, Sydney

While most works have a comedic edge, others use the opportunity to examine and teach. Highlights include Pittock’s ceramic works, taking inspiration from the highlight of any week in lockdown: a trip to the supermarket. Rebranding and renaming grocery items such as Aeroplane jelly, Tic Toc biscuits and Calypso icy poles (Apocalipsos) to reflect the events that have transpired this year.

‘Be One With Your Sponge’ is Vatanajyankur’s nod to the mundane nature of domestic tasks, heightened by an increased time spent in our homes. While typically unappreciated for the time and physicality endured, Vatanajyankur’s video work Sponge reveals the strength, power and endurance involved with housework; turning her own body into a cleaning-up sponge.

In and outside their apartment, How To Live Together by Salote Tawale & Sidney McMahon documents the transition from living with someone to isolating together, reflecting on moments of disconnection and connection, silence and togetherness. ‘You know I love you… but I miss other people generally.’