It’s taken a pandemic to shift the focus to what really matters at home, and these Melbourne families are proof that creating a special ritual is the silver lining of lockdown.
Some bring out their best dinner plates for nightly meals, while others keep the fun rolling with a themed dinner. Whatever the choice, it’s the small things which are making all the difference and shifting mindsets for the better.
Anna and Jeremy Beaumont live in Travancore with their two daughters Dulcie, 10, and Polly, 7. They’re up to their ninth Saturday night themed dinner to keep everyone entertained – and to take their minds off the fact they would be in Europe on a holiday right now.
From fancy to fictional characters, they’re going to great lengths to make the most of dress-up boxes at home. There’s been a “Meant to be in Venice” night with a makeshift backyard gondola attempt and a “Tour de France” salute to cycling.
“We had such a fun time planning the menu for our themed nights that it became our favourite topic of conversation during our weeknight family dinners,” says Anna, who works as a dietician at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre while her husband runs his own graphic design business Green Scribble from home.
Jewellery designer Megan Castran has kept busy creating happiness-themed YouTube videos (she’s up to 92) and a soon-to-launch podcast that involves her family. Known for hosting Oprah Winfrey at her home 10 years ago while on her second tour of Australia, Castran has kept in touch with her famous friend and leans into a similar positive ethos in her day-to-day living.
During lockdown, Castran has made a special effort to keep the colour scheme alive at home too – think bright blues and flamingo pinks.
When it comes to cocktail hour on a Friday night, she brings out the rainbow colour scheme for all to enjoy.
“I think rainbows cheer people up,” says Castran. “We make Fridays the fun day and dress up for the occasion. We wear clothes we wouldn’t usually in our day to day in lockdown, but make that special effort because it makes everyone feel good.”
Her Jewel Chic rainbow-bright homewares, from rainbow placements to cocktail shakers, will appear in retail stores this October.
“It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of thinking we’re stuck inside,” says Castran. “Yes Melbourne is depressing right now, and my dad passed two years ago and we did a Zoom for his birthday in this time, so it’s been tough for sure, but as a general rule I am positive day-to-day.”
Melbourne artist Simon Normand has spent the last 30 years creating sculptures, etchings and mosaics from his backyard studio – with a spectacular public work The Labyrinth located at the Austin Repatriation Hospital.
While COVID-19 hit the pause button on an exhibition back in March, and other special unveilings at the Austin Hospital postponed until 2021, Normand began using this time to work on other projects.
“I’ve decided to create some new artworks that I’ve always wanted to make but have never found time for,” says Normand.
“Having a backyard studio where I can make a mess and get lost is ideal in lockdown too.”
Normand has asked his daughter Tehya to help with the mosaics, which also gives her brain a break from her high school studies.
“I’m creating a series of enormous cast cement and glass mosaic stamps based on the beautiful pre-decimal Australian animals that I collected as a child – like the lyrebird, emu, platypus, quoll, numbat and kangaroo. I’ve ventured into the darkest depths of my shed and found piles of glass tiles hidden for 20 years,” says Normand.
“With my daughter Tehya schooling from home, I’ve been colourising these iconic stamps getting some colour guidance. I’ve decided, for a change, to listen just a little to my daughter’s advice in posting the whole process on Instagram, which I’ve scoffed at continually pre-COVID,” he says.
His daughter has also been commissioned to make mosaic letterbox blue tongue lizards and a blue-winged kookaburra with leftover tiles. Normand says it’s a win-win because he has a helper and she’s discovering a way to relax away from the schoolbooks.
“The silver lining in all of this is that I’ve been reinvigorated by how many people want to really understand the art-making process via my Instagram thanks to my daughter,” he says. “And I’ve got a new appreciation for Baker Boy, Frank Ocean and Tyler The Creator.”