Artable founder Gillian Grobe

Isolation proves inspirational for artists


Artists on the Gold Coast say COVID-19 has helped them create new pieces despite the stress and anxiety of being in isolation.

Studio ED duo Drew Magnum and Elke Gill
The Studio ED duo, Drew Magnum (left) and Elke Gill have created a new online platform with the help of the HOTA Arts Fund. Photo: Courtesy Elke Gill


The Gold Coast’s Home of the Arts (HOTA) created a project in March called ‘Rage Against the V(irus)’.

The project gave Gold Coast artists the chance to be creative during the pandemic’s uncertain and unprecedented times.

“We believe that artists are resilient, resourceful and perfectly placed to respond and reflect on the world we find ourselves in,” HOTA said in a statement.

Artists were given $1000 from the HOTA Artists’ Fund to create either a podcast, an audio file, a Facebook live event, video content, or an Instagram account or series.

Two artists who benefitted from the Rage Against the V(irus) project were Elke Gill and Drew Magnum.

Ms Gill and her business partner Ms Magnum created a business, Studio ED, to encourage design and creativity through their online platform.

Studio ED was designed to be a multi-disciplinary creative studio with a focus on conscious design.

It offers a range of services including branding, interior design, graphic design, event styling, web design and motion design.

Ms Gill said she and her team were thankful for the support from HOTA during COVID-19.

One of the art projects Ms Gill and Ms Magnum created is called ‘A Quiet Chaos’, which includes a range of digital painting that can be purchased on their website.

Ms Gill was the project’s visual and interactive designer, in charge of motion, branding, illustration and photography.

Ms Magnum was the project’s architectural designer, and Lachlan Maclead was added to the mix as the project’s sound engineer and producer.

The entire project was funded through HOTA’s Rage against the V(irus) fund.

“Rage against the V(irus) was really my first project with HOTA, however, I’d love to keep working with them,” Ms Gill said.

“It was incredible to see so much support towards the creative community of the Gold Coast in the height of the pandemic and I commend them for being so quick to action such a project,” she said.

Afternoon tea
Studio ED submitted this piece, called ‘Afternoon tea’, as part of the Rage Against the V(irus) project. Photo: Courtesy Elke Gill


Ms Gill has been creating motion animation since she was in year seven, which was when she fell in love with the process.

“I’ve always been dreaming and creating,” she said.

“My first memories are of collecting flowers to create dresses for the fairies.”

The HOTA project allowed Ms Gill and Ms Magnum to turn new and innovative ideas into art forms.

“Drew and I have known each other since Grade 7 and have always shared similar tastes, passions and values,” Ms Gill said.

She said not only did COVID-19 not affect her work, but it actually seemed to create more work for her.

“I was working from home during lockdown and it almost felt like I had more work than usual,” Ms Gill said.

She said the new platform had allowed them to plan many future projects, including pottery and animated short video clips.

For more information about Studio ED and their work, follow them on Instagram (@studioed) or visit their website.

The Studio ED pair aren’t the only ones to have found inspiration in the pandemic.

QUT visual arts student Ruby Jones said she had also found the isolation experience artistically inspiring.

“Being a young artist and experiencing a major global pandemic like this is something which will be later known as a whole new era of ‘isolation artists’,” Ms Jones said.

“I found myself really connecting with how I was feeling at the time [isolation] and projecting my emotions into my art, which was my form of therapy,” she said.

Ms Jones said she also had a strong artistic response to the Australian bushfire tragedy in January this year.

“Some friends from uni and I all begun doing what we knew best, by creating artworks to sell in order to raise money for bushfire organisations,” she said.

Ms Jones donated 100 per cent of the proceeds of her sales, which totalled $280, to the WIRES Foundation.

The NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service, or WIRES, is a not-for-profit organisation that dedicates its time to rescuing and rehabilitating native Australian fauna.

Artable founder Gillian Grobe
Artable founder Gillian Grobe said the demand for beginner art classes had increased since the start of the pandemic. Photo: Courtesy Gillian Grobe


Ms Jones said she sold her fundraising art through her Instagram platform (@cap1suga).

“I would love to work on more fundraising opportunities like this, as I feel I’m really making a difference in the best way I can,” she said.

In addition to being an art student, Ms Jones works at Pinot and Picasso Southport, which is a paint and sip workshop on the Gold Coast.

Her role there involves instructing groups of people on how to successfully paint a piece of art.

“My job really has encouraged me to expand into painting a little more, as I’ve become more comfortable in putting a brush to canvas, as well as being able to teach a class my techniques and help them to achieve their own artwork,” she said.

Artable founder Gillian Grobe said the creative community had been extremely busy since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Artable creative community is based in Northern New South Wales and the Gold Coast, and holds workshops onsite, taught by guest artists from around the world.

Ms Grobe said Artable had had three overseas sold-out retreats planned for this year, two in Greece and one in Switzerland, all of which had been cancelled due to the pandemic.

“The biggest impact for us [from COVID-19] was that the retreats couldn’t run,” she said.

Ms Grobe said some artists had been struggling, while others had found inspiration during isolation.

“I wonder if that’s the nature of artists, that they are creative and coming up with solutions to problem solving,” she said.

“I did speak to a couple of the older teachers, they were not teaching at all, and they were really feeling it, they weren’t feeling creative themselves at all, I wonder if it was the shock or trauma.”

Ms Grobe said the local demand for beginner art classes had increased significantly in the past few months.

Artable is currently holding one-day beginner learn to draw and learn to watercolour workshops at their studios in New South Wales and the Gold Coast.

“Being creative is a really good thing to do in times like this when nobody really knows what’s going on,” Ms Grobe said.

For more information about Artable and their workshops, visit their website.

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