• regional
  • visual

Meet Brenna Quinlan, illustrating a more hopeful future.

Meet the Brenna Quinlan, illustrating a more hopeful future.

Tell us about you and your creative work.

I live at Melliodora, the permaculture property in Daylesford created by the co-originator of permaculture David Holmgren. Here we grow food, soil, habitat and community. To all of the tour groups, classes and interns that come through here, we show that living in a regenerative way that cares for the world around us is a really fun way to live.

My art is dedicated to the same cause - I use my creative energies to inspire positive change in people. I work in watercolour and pen, and aim to represent complex and important issues in an interesting and digestible way.

How has coronavirus impacted on your life and work?

I am a permaculture teacher as well as an illustrator. Earlier this year my partner and I were driving our veg oil-powered house truck north, beginning what was to be a four month trip teaching permaculture in schools, courses and at festivals. We made it to Byron Bay when overnight all of our gigs evaporated, so we turned back around and came home.

On a creative level, spare time is never wasted. I’ve been able to dust off some of the jobs which have been sitting on my to-do list for months (or years!!). This includes an educational resource pack for teaching permaculture and sustainability, including a poster, an illustrated card deck and other teaching materials. We’ll be releasing these this winter.

How are you coping or responding at this time?

In permaculture we talk a lot about resilience and self- and community-reliance. How can we take care of some of our needs, and remove a little of our dependence from the system? This takes many forms, and can be as easy as learning to bake sourdough, trading chook eggs for a neighbour’s lemons, or growing some salad greens on a sunny windowsill.

The lockdown has strengthened my resolve to share this message with people, and help build resilience in our daily lives. We don’t know when the next virus will hit, when the supermarket shelves will next run empty, or if we’ll have paid work next week, but we can buffer these events with community ties and a handful of seeds.

Do you envisage new creative sector opportunities emerging from this crisis?

In nature, upheaval leads to opportunity. When a tree falls in a forest, new ones are granted the light and space to grow. We have seen through Covid that more artists than ever are using their skills to help others, and that there is more demand than ever for creative interpretation of the issues of our time.

The call for any post-lockdown economic stimulus to be invested in a low-carbon future (and not in propping up the subsidy-dependant fossil fuel industry) is growing. The first step toward creating something new is imagining that it is possible, and I have been heartened to see the global enthusiasm for the role of artists, writers, musicians and other creatives in constructing a more positive view of the future.

In three words, offer your fellow creatives some encouragement or advice. 

Be the change.