Since March 2020, over 76,000 returning New Zealanders have experienced 14-day managed isolation in hotels around the country in order to keep New Zealand free from COVID-19 in the community. Over the past 14 days, globally renowned Kiwi artist, Ruby Jones has brought their experiences to life in a unique artist residency called ‘Thanks from Iso’.
Jones collaborated with Accor New Zealand who approached the artist after receiving thousands of items of creative and written work from guests undergoing managed isolating in their hotels. The material offers fascinating insights into the journey made by those who have experienced 14 days of managed isolation as well as the Kiwis who have been tirelessly working on the front line for the majority of the year.
Ruby Jones gained international prominence after her artwork was published on the front cover of Time magazine<https://www.instagram.com/p/BvS2kNmHkRg/> following the Christchurch mosque shootings.
As part of her 14-day residency at Allpress Studios in Auckland, Jones interviewed dozens of Kiwi workers and residents in isolation, creating a body of artwork designed to encompass the bravery and solidarity shown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ruby and Accor will eventually donate all 14 pieces of unique artwork to Auckland Museum.
Throughout the COVID response effort, hotel teams from across the country have been supporting Kiwis returning home alongside government agencies such as AvSec, NZDF, MoH, MBIE and the NZ Police, together working tirelessly to help keep our communities safe.
According to Gillian Millar, Accor Senior Vice President Operations, “The journey for our teams, government agencies and guests since the first lockdown has been both heart-wrenching and rewarding. I am incredibly proud of the way our teams step up to help the government and our communities stay safe. We knew we needed a way to capture these tales, inner thoughts and experiences in a concentrated body of work that will encompass this moment in time – providing a visual understanding for generations to come.”
Jones’ residency at Allpress Studio in Auckland ran from Tuesday 24 November – Monday 7 December. Throughout the exhibition, thousands of Kiwis were able to view guest creations and artworks directly, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who shared her experience with followers online<https://www.instagram.com/p/CIXGcC2gCUQ/>.
“I feel incredibly honoured to have worked with Accor on this impactful project,” says Jones. “Hearing the heartfelt stories of managed isolation residents and frontline workers is an experience I’ll never forget. I hope the works I’ve produced resonate with the people of Aotearoa and spark a deeper sense of understanding for those to come.”