Lockdown (brush trail possum)

Zoe Porter
Lockdown (brush trail possum), 2020
Watercolour and embroidery thread on paper, 44 x 33.8cm (framed)


In the Anthropocene, the so-called ‘new normal’, or what I prefer to conceptualise as ‘the new abnormal’, life will be characterised by uncertainty, unpredictability, genuine chaos and relentless change. Earth distress, as manifest in global warming, changing climates, erratic weather, acidifying oceans, disease pandemics, species endangerment and extinction, bioaccumulation of toxins and the overwhelming physical impact of exponentially-expanding human development will have its correlates in human physical and mental distress

—Glenn Albrecht, “Exiting the Anthropocene and Entering the Symbiocene,” Minding Nature 9, no. 2 (2016): 12.


The ‘new abnormal’ as defined by Albrecht seems to have arrived and the interconnection between climate change, species extinction and the impacts of consumerism seem all the more apparent at this moment in time. With this particular series, I aimed to evoke a sense of decay and transformation. Albrecht’s quote is relevant as it identifies the current state of environmental crises and our human impact on non-human animals and their habitats.


Lockdown (Caper Gull Butterfly, Brush Tail Possum & Magpie) (2020) is a triptych of works on paper that can be considered as a series of psychological self-portraits. I have photographed myself in the studio and digitally collaged photographs of several native animal species onto my body that I collected in my local area. These works depict a transformation of the human into a state of ‘becoming-animal’, in order to attempt to present an experience of dislocation and highlight the destruction of non-human animals through human impact.


This set of works also alludes to a sense of isolation in a domestic setting that I felt during the lockdown and which also considers our relationship to the natural environment and the impacts of climate change. This series of works grew out of a reflection on the last twelve months, which has been full of unexpected change and strange events, in particular the COVID-19 pandemic and period of lockdown. During lockdown, I became much more aware of my domestic and local environment, and I began to document the suburb I live in and the roadkill that I stumbled upon on my daily walks. I had also given birth to my daughter in late 2019, which coincided with the Black Summer bushfires; when we returned home from the hospital, we entered an oddly surreal, smoke-hazed home and brutal summer heat. The recent climactic catastrophes and global pandemic have highlighted the extremes that exist in society and our need to take care of our environment and biodiversity, particularly in an Australian context.