Life in isolation with creators Emily Nolan & Claudia Smith

Claudia Smith

It's not a new concept that the coronavirus pandemic outbreak has been particularly hard on those in creative industries. When people and families need to tighten the financial belt, spending on creative endeavours are usually the first items crossed off the proverbial budget. Add in that restrictions around Job Keeper and Job Seeker payments mean that many of the freelancers, casual staff and small businesses don't qualify, the backbone of the creative industry has been left out in the cold.

We've written not one but two editions of how we can be looking to support members of our creative community during this time. Now we're looking into the lives of creators. What's changed, what's hard and what is bringing hope.

Here's an intimate look into the lives of four creatives and their experiences in isolation.


Emily Nolan

Fashion designer

A “normal” week is broken up around my client appointments, pattern making, sewing, computer admin and chasing time to do accounts and development. While I am currently unable to see clients who are looking for made to measure suiting, The E Nolan Dressing Room has been a little lifeless. With E Nolan, I have always felt like I'm running too slow in a dream to catch up with workload or the blurred lines of personal life and work is too pixelated. I really miss the beaming personalities and brains to dress. I feel a bit ‘woe is me’ saying that...I know appointments will resume. It's just a much more stale energy without my clients.


Emily Nolan


Vulnerability is an important state to get into before you can achieve absolute honesty. I know peanuts about the cure to Covid-19, but I have a couple tricks up my sleeve for a broken heart, applying these to the current situation has helped me to adapt in our uncertain environment. To stay connected, I have been sewing Sleeping Suits to keep my heart and hands moving. I have been thinking a lot about the purpose of our clothing. It has always been a layer between myself and the elements. Physical and emotional comfort is most important when getting dressed.

  1. Only wear your very favourite clothes. Do they match? Who cares.
  2. Do a fashion show for your labrador
  3. Reread your favourite book, to revise words you have read years before is a comforting hit of hindsight
  4. Don’t skip dessert 
  5. Remember hogging the landline after spending a whole day together? Sit on the phone with your best friend for no reason 
  6. Pull out absolutely everything you own, tell yourself you’re going to spring clean and then spend a week playing hopscotch around the small piles you’ve compartmentalised only to put it all back in the cupboard “sorted”
  7. Walk around a garden, watch your dog kiss her friends hello
  8. Wear odd socks, it might make a stranger smile on your daily walk
  9. Practice the motion that disconnects thought, for me this is drawing and now cooking. Find what it is that lets you drift.
  10. If you can’t sleep, watch television shows you know intrinsically well. Sleeping to the sound of Archer, Elaine or Marissa Cooper is better than being locked wide-eyed onto a new plot.



Things keeping me feeling sane and grounded right now? I am re-reading The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, Alice in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, The World According to Garp by John Irving and The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemmingway. I have been listening to podcasts including Who The Hell Is Hamish, My Favourite Murder and Love Stories by Dolly Alderton. I am playing Bananagrams and backgammon. And I have been dreaming of fabrics, silhouettes and 1950’s millinery. I can’t stop cutting my fucking fringe. 


Bella Clark

Jewellery designer

With so much uncertainty throughout the world at the moment, it’s been so unsettling and overwhelmingly ominous. We are in unknown territory. Everyone is facing solitude. I’m trying to focus on the smaller things in my life, things I can personally take control of. 


Bella Clark jewellery


Business is a little different than usual. With this slower pace of reality, I’ve had the time to slow down and reassess my business plan, fix up those little things on my website I’ve never gotten around to doing, planning and drawing designs for future work. I also, like so many other businesses, adapting to ‘non-contact’: I’ve moved my bespoke appointments to email and posting out ring sizers instead of clients visiting the studio.

I’ve noticed I have a lot more time to stop to smell the roses, appreciating the smaller and simpler things in life; the autumn light at near dusk, taking time to exploring cookbooks for new recipes (Neighbourhood by Hetty Mckinnon is a current favourite), calling loved ones to check in more often.

I’m fortunate to have a studio where I work alone, that I can get into a couple of times a week to send off orders. It has been a little tricky with suppliers being shut. But I’m trying to adapt to this as well creating a “ready to ship” page on my website.

There are definitely days when I don’t feel like leaving bed (especially as it starts to get a bit colder in Melbourne) and other days when I wake up feeling motivated and can’t wait to get on with the day. I can be a roller-coaster of emotions, taking it one day at a time. Although, I do try my best to keep to a routine, early to bed, early to rise, morning ritual of making a cup of coffee, a bit of yoga (with my favourite yoga teacher who is now online) or a nice long walk to start each day, it helps me maintain a sense of clarity, that things are normal or that normal life is not far off.


Bella Clark Jewellery


I’m usually a big podcast listener of world news and current events but at the moment, I’m opting for some more pandemic-free listening. My current favourites are Rough Translation by NRP, The Missing Crypto Queen by BBC and Sooo many white guys hosted by Phoebe Robinson. For nostalgia reasons, I’ve been binge watching a lot of  The Hills and the OC…easy tv to pass the time.

With less time in my studio, my dining table has become my design studio (shared with my boyfriend who is also working from home), I’m drawing and making plans for my next collection. I’ve found that working for  myself, the lines between weekdays and weekends have begun to blur. I don’t mind spending a few hours sending emails/working on the weekends when I used to try and keep work strictly to weekdays to give myself some me-time over the weekends.  

I’ve also found with less time in the studio means less time being covered in dust and polishing compound, I’ve been able to focus on some self-love. I’ve really taken to a proper skincare routine. A few of my favourite products right now include; Kate Somerville Intensive Exfoliating Treatment, Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask, Medik8 Vitamin C serum and Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream.  My hair is a lot cleaner with less dust, and even being able to self-manicure - this account does great home manicure tutorials - and take care of my nails (which is never a thing whilst working on the jewellery bench).

Trying to stay positive, I have been enjoying and trying to make the most of this slower pace of life, not putting so much pressure on myself, catching up on those things I’ve been meaning to do forever, spring (autumn) clean, but in saying this, I really miss my friends and family so much.


Srna Vuckovic

Creator and astrologer

With nowhere to go and nowhere to be, I am feeling peaceful, alive and in tune. I have passed the time, reading - something I love to do but often feel too busy to finish. Three books that have really intrigued me are; 

Tonight I’m someone else - Chelsea Hodson

The artist's way - Julia Cameron

And their children after them - Nicholas Mathieu 

This last one is such an eloquent, melancholic description of teen angst, it’s been fun to let my mind wander and think about my own past memories. I’m part of an all girls book club, there’s about 9 of us and we start zoom meetings next week to discuss, I already know it will be a laugh. 


Srna Vukovic


I also just enrolled into an online contemporary art course with MoMA, it’s three hours a week and free. Super fascinated and glad to be using my brain in a different way. I love pottery, and started learning about 2 and half years ago now - I make some wacky face vases so i've been having fun doing that in the sun when I can.

I hate to admit but i’m one of those people who have also taken up baking since this all started, anyone who knows me knows i’m not much of a chef - but i have tried my hand at apple strudel and key lime pie. I had rave reviews, so it’s made me a little more confident.


Srna Vukovich


I've also paid a little more attention to my skin care, I have been using my friends new organic skincare line VIVO. I use Grandelash to make my lashes grow and it works, and bought the Barbara Strum travel pack to try out and see what all the fuss is about. It’s been nice to be natural and not use much makeup, let my skin breath and feel clean instead of ‘made up’. My day to day outfit is bordering on a uniform but it’s making me feel mature like Anna Wintour with her famous glasses. Fashion but make it pandemic - I always wear redone jeans, Boston birkenstocks and comfy jumpers - I recently bought one from Online Ceramics an LA label, who do the cutest slogans and tye-dye colours. 

I’m a Youtube fanatic too - I watch a lot of Dr Joe Dispenza. My boyfriend and I are also super into Egypt, so we watch documentaries about the building of the pyramids and ancient Egyptian mythology. I have been swimming every morning too, after I watched the Goop Netflix on Iceman Wim Hof - I did some research and even downloaded his app. 

I think it’s cool to explore all the things that interest you. I’m naturally curious and all for self expansion. Life has certainly slowed down, so I made a point of waking up and watching the sun rise every morning. It makes me feel really lucky and humbled, and it’s a practice I want to keep up long after this pandemic is over. I think it is also making me so much more aware of many young families that are jobless, struggling and older people too - I have been thinking and talking a lot to my Grandma who lives alone in Croatia, and in a sense, my own mortality has come up.


Srna Vukovic


I think we all see how much we take for granted when the world is normal, being able to visit people you don't often see, and just how important it is to continue those traditions. Personally, I go through moods, some days I feel chill and in the zone, other days I'm emotional, moody and nervous. I know a lot of people share my sentiments. As an Astrologer, I have had many people reach out saying ‘I’m feeling sensitive’, even people writing to me saying ‘Why am I thinking about the past so much?’ We never know what someone is living through, and I think it's important to remember that all our feelings are valid. 

I know we are living through a mystifying, mesmerising, and memorable time! Moving into the Age of Aquarius with many auspicious happenings, like the Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions, the new set of eclipses and all the Capricorn energy was always going to make this a monster year. Make no mistake, we will be moulded by it, but therein lies the joy of change - that makes every new day magic. 


Claudia Smith

Artist and photographer

I'm taking this as a time to take a big breath. To understand individually where I am in the world and where we are as a community. Just like we need breaks, Mother Nature does too. I think we should all appreciate and be more self aware of the land we live on. 

I've been noticing and feeling new things. I’m incredibly thankful for the things I do have in life such as my health, the support I have, fresh air and carbs. I feel privileged that I am able to self-isolate in my beautiful family home, with lots of space and a lush garden to eat breakfast in the morning sun. 


Claudia Smith


My priorities and how I want to work moving forward from this have really shifted. I'm a huge homebody but what I’m missing most is being surrounded by the incredibly talented people I normally get to work with. I’ve been spending this time to connect further with imagery and found it therapeutic to start taking more photos with my iPhone as a way of documentation.  


Claudia Smith


I think that morning routine is the most important for me at the moment. If you’d call it a routine…Embracing a little bit of a sleep in, doing some slow stretching or a fluid form pilates workout, making fresh juice or a delicious toast combo. Some days it’s no routine and it's 4pm and I haven’t got dressed yet. That’s totally okay.

I’m listening to Planet Caravan by Black Sabbath, Bossa B by Hector Plimmer, Movements (chapter III) by Leon Vynehall, and It makes you forget (Itgehane) by Peggy Gou. I recently watched Unorthodox, which was great. And 7 Years in Tibet.  


Claudia Smith


When it comes to self-care, I am trying not to look at my phone so much. I have also been  face masking a lot - my favourite at the moment is Dr Barbara Sturm. 

Spending time by the ocean or going for a dip is my biggest self-care ritual. It is always a needed reset and fuel of positive energy. I’m reminding myself to just keep drinking water and be thankful. I’ve learned that, more than ever, it’s important not to overthink things. Embrace this new pace of life.