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Is today tomorrow?

Is today tomorrow?

As the city tries to right itself after the topsy turvy times of COVID, people are hoping that art might have some answers. The National Gallery of Victoria opened for the first time in months on Wednesday, November 3 at 10am. There wasn’t exactly a long queue but at about 9.40am two sisters arrived and they were in for a bit of a surprise. Their keenness for Melbourne’s most beloved cultural institution sparked a reaction and earned them an unexpected celeb moment. The media had gathered on St Kilda Rd waiting for arrivals, including photographer Eugene Hyland who hadn’t had a gig in quite a while. Eugene made quite a fuss over the sisters, getting Catherine to trail her fingers through the waters that run so poetically down the NGV window. Eugene compared notes with the girls about the lockdown after the photoshoot. He appeared to be quite keen for human interaction. “I’ve been assuming a foetal position and waiting it out,” the photographer explained to Cath and Pat. His car had broken down on the way to the gig. Catherine Evans, who was down from Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, was managing the transition better than most. She said she’d been forced “to rethink life and move between narrow boundaries” but she had actually managed to fly from Newcastle to Melbourne without many hassles, and that seemed quite an achievement. People rushed around her as she brought them news of another state, one unlocked for several weeks, and she seemed more confident than anyone else present. Patricia Collins, her sister, lives on Wells St and spent two weeks in isolation when there was an outbreak in her block. She called it her seventh lockdown, but she seemed to be doing okay. “I live just around the corner and come to every major exhibition,” Patricia said. She even made it to the Impressionist Show from Boston and was one of the lucky few to see it, open to the public for just two weeks before the brilliance of the curators was dashed by the outbreak. No-one was talking much about the art at the reunion of art lovers in front of the gallery. Perhaps they were all too pessimistic. Briana Tomasino, an NGV media officer, said she’d become addicted to beach walks during the pandemic. Pat, on the other hand, said she’d been reading books and Cath admitted that she was drinking at least a glass of wine a day. “All the collections are open,” Bri said, trying to elevate the event to a more cultured level. She recommended the work of a French artist Camille Henrot and her show: Is Today Tomorrow? I couldn’t wait to see the show. It seemed quite relevant to the topsy turvy world we’ve been inhabiting. If only I knew where I put my double vax credentials. Is Today Tomorrow? Camille Henrot, NGV until January 22 •

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