"I used this as an opportunity to explore the things that I never allowed myself the time to do."
Sarah Malik

14 May 2020 - 10:36 AM  UPDATED 14 May 2020 - 10:36 AM

SBS Voices speaks to three people on the hobbies they've cultivated during social isolation and how it's helped them re-connect and improve their relationships.

Ciara Bowe, 26, Sydney.  

“When your hands covered in clay you can’t check your phone.”

"I think everybody has experienced that relationships can have a bit of pressure on them during isolation. The idea behind getting my housemates to get involved was so we could have a few hours where we sat outside and did something creative, rather than just bickering or you know getting in each other’s way. During the pottery sessions we’ve been asking each other questions about each other’s mental health, how we’re feeling and whether we’re anxious about the current situation and how we can work to make each other feel better.

I’m quite an active person and I don’t like sitting around, so having a hobby in isolation, pottery in particular, has allowed me to take time out and get my hands dirty. When you’re covered in clay, you can’t check your phone, so that’s been really nice, having that break. It’s allowed me to check in on myself and my housemates but also have something that I feel I’ve created.

My grandma was actually a potter and I have a few of her pieces. I think they’re gorgeous. I’ve always used to look up to her and how artistic and creative she was. After starting pottery, I feel more connected to her."


Tracey-Lee Stewart, 55, Preston, Victoria.  

“I use this as an opportunity to explore the things that I never allowed myself the time to do.”

"I got stood down during coronavirus. Previously I had been in the same place for 17 years. It wasn’t my dream job. I loved the people I worked with and the fact that I could walk to work. In some ways it was an easy job to have. Part of me realised that I did want something more but I didn’t know what that was. A friend of mine once made me a patchwork quilt and she gave it to me as a promotion present. I remember just being so touched. I thought it was such a personal, beautiful gift and I thought I could do that. Why can’t I do that? And I never thought anymore of it. But in the back of my mind, it was a gift I always treasured and I thought one day I’ll do that! And the one day never came.

So I turned 55 in April, and I thought, you know I could easily be 56, and I could be whinging about the fact that I no longer have a job and I don’t have an income. I could do all of those things, or I could just use this as an opportunity to explore the things that I never allowed myself the time to do rather than just float along in my life. It’s a time to reflect and think about taking a risk, looking silly or being a failure, and being ok with not following the herd. It’s made me grateful and also a little bit sad about missed opportunities.

It’s beautiful (to create something). Even the failures. 

My house is little and patchwork takes up a lot of space. I just did not want it to be in the way. Now, I think to myself, no actually this actually does have value. I don’t need to remove it from sight. Just because I want to do something, doesn’t make it less valuable than what my husband wants to do or what my niece wants to do.

It’s beautiful (to create something). Even the failures. There’s one quilt with a square on it and it’s not joined and it really bothers me because this is the quilt that I have measured from beginning to end. It’s not perfect. But I look at it and go - that’s perfect in imperfection. I’m going to leave it there, and no one else will notice it, except for me. I just really love it, it makes me extremely happy.


Emma Heard & Archer, Brisbane.

“The guinea pigs have really helped with our mental health.”

"We got our guinea pigs as all the restrictions were starting to come in. We thought it was very important that we get ourselves some little pets. Something to love and look after, while we were by ourselves. The guinea pigs have really helped a lot with our mental health. Training them has given us something to do and something to be responsible for. They’ve helped us to keep a routine throughout our day. Knowing that something is relying on you and that we have something to look after has been really important. We give them cuddles every day.

They make us laugh a lot, which has been really good for us. My 4-year-old Archie sits with them and reads his book on the couch. And often he’ll just be there patting Rosie and Honey, and you can see how it helps calm him and give him company."

As told to Sarah Malik. Interviews edited and condensed for clarity.

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