This digital photograph depicts Fairfield resident Simone Grace posing at her front fence during the State of Victoria's first COVID-19 lockdowns and associated 'stay at home' restrictions. Simone's husband Andrew, sons Flynn and Ned and dog Jacko are depicted looking on in the background.
When COVID-19 lockdowns were first introduced in Melbourne in March 2020, Simone Grace was undergoing intensive chemotherapy for Stage 3 Grade 3 Breast Cancer. Her experience of COVID-19 lockdowns, therefore, was significantly impacted by the fact that she was undergoing medical treatment and considered 'high risk' due to being immunocompromised. 'Having cancer treatment during this time has made me more vulnerable to get out and about', reflected Simone in August 2020. 'I have been forced to stay indoors more and my routine of going to the market or shopping is something I now realise I very much enjoyed, and miss greatly.'
COVID-19 also altered Simone's experience of medical care: 'Before COVID I was allowed to have a support person or two come along with me into day oncology. But because of COVID-19, I now have to go it alone. This has been really hard. Andrew or Flynn drop me at the hospital door, and I can see the pain in their eyes knowing I'm going in alone.' Simone also reflected in August 2020 that 'the human side of medical treatment has been robbed by COVID', with oncology wards lonely and empty, and the smiles or facial expressions of medical staff hidden behind Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 'We can't see the smiles of the nurses or receive the hugs that we used to', reflected Simone, 'it has certainly been a challenging time.'
Despite the challenges of undergoing chemotherapy during COVID-19 lockdowns, Simone reflected in August 2020 that there had been some silver linings and learnings to take from the experience: 'the best thing has been spending more time with the boys; as a family we have really loved being together as life has slowed down. It is a good thing to be able to slow down, and to not rush about, so that you can appreciate things that matter: family, friends, the outdoors and just how beautiful nature is. I've learnt to eat well, worry less and not take things for granted, especially my health and freedom.'
Simone also reflected that her family enjoyed the experience of being photographed whilst in lockdown: 'The photos are a moment in time, and something we can cherish forever. It was difficult for me as my hair has only started to grow back after treatment and surgery, I had sores on my lips from chemotherapy and felt my appearance was not a true representation of myself. However having these beautiful photos of us as family and our home is very special during this crazy time.'
This photograph was taken by Melbourne-based photographer Julie Ewing as part of her 'Across the Fence' photographic series. This series documents life in Melbourne's Darebin region during the first COVID-19 lockdowns that began in Victoria on 14 March 2020. Julie photographed 120 households and 60 businesses during March to May 2020, and this digital photograph is one of 24 images that were acquired into Museum Victoria's Collecting the Curve Collection. These photographs provide a lasting reminder of how neighbourhoods and households in Melbourne were impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as the unique ways through which individuals and communities adapted their lives and found new routines, traditions and ways of supporting one another.
Digital TIFF file
Donation from Julie Ewing
Collected as part of the Museum In My Neighbourhood project with support from the Office of Suburban Development.
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