Lockdown – it was a whole new level of existence.
Five weeks where teddy bears paraded, toilet rolls ruled, and our unshaved legs were one with nature. Orcas swam in our harbours, birdsong replaced car horns, and the planet breathed a sigh.
Now award-winning artist Anna Crichton's new book Dear Virus, beautifully executed series of cartoons centred on the lockdown life of 'Mr and Mrs Dear', serves as a poignant souvenir of that weirdest of times. The highs, the lows — the longing for a hug and a takeaway latte.
"I think it will be an engaging commemorative book," says Hawke's Bay-born Anna.
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"It's a humorous look at the time during lockdown, but hidden behind the humour often are poignant, delicate sentiments that everyone has had. There will be historical reminders - how hard it was to get flour, panic buying of toilet paper. Hopefully in years to come, they'll jog memories of what lockdown was about."
The cartoons are a mixture of the real and the surreal, a kaleidoscope of news events, actuality and longing.
The couple riding on the backs of whales (a nod to orcas coming into Wellington Harbour); a man lovingly shaping his hedge into a topiary cup of coffee; a fretful Mrs Dear seeing a counsellor; Mr Dear doing yoga in his Y-fronts; one entitled The Takeover, where a car parked on the street is overgrown with branches, Sleeping Beauty-style.
Much of Anna's inspiration for the cartoons came from sitting on a log at the secluded beach just a short bush walk from her west Auckland studio, and letting her mind drift like the clouds.
She says that as well as drawing, nature played a huge role in preventing her from unravelling during this immensely difficult time. As a thank you, she's donating 10 per cent of all sales to NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust.
■ Anna will be talking about the Dears and signing copies at Wardini Books, Havelock North, on Wednesday, July 22 at 6pm. All are welcome.