Lock down bear phenomenon captured in new pop-up exhibition

Local photographer DeeDee Noon has captured the viral sensation of hibernation bears during the recent COVID-19 lock down period, and now the images she created are available for everyone to see.

Her work is being displayed in a pop-up photographic exhibition on display in the windows of the Bowie Kitchen Café in Mount Lawley. The venue was for many years known as the Coode Street Cafe, but has recently had a change of name, am makeover and a fresh menu.

The Out of Hi-Bear-Nation exhibition is a photographic documentation of the ‘great bear hunt’ in Perth’s suburbs from late March to mid-June this year. The ECU PhD student traversed the streets looking for bear art works in front of suburban homes.

As the community went into isolation, people placed children’s stuffed toys in settings out the front of their homes, some of them had a sophisticated level of planning and execution. Neighbourhood bear hunt pages were created on Facebook where participants posted photos of their installations. Maps were produced. Framed like a game, children were encouraged to take daily exercise and check-out local toy displays.

Describing the variety of bear installations she encountered Noon said there was a lot that could be read into each collection.

“The Out of Hi-bear-nation showcases the evolution of this suburban adventure walk for parents of young children. It shows how some of the street-facing toy contributions were
inspired by the popular pre-schooler classic picture book ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’. Other displays possibly gave form to unconscious concerns. Did toy sloths somehow express the track-pant attired Covid-couch drift? Why so many Winnie the Poohs? Were pandas yearning for escape, talking to fears of threatened species demise?” Noon said.

The exhibition forms part of Ms Noon’s PhD research, which photographically investigates people’s connection with toys.

“The exhibition is a window into what happened on Perth’s suburban streets during coronavirus isolation, and an opportunity for parents and the community to discuss and process their own individual experiences,” Noon said of the exhibition.

The Out of Hi-Bear-Nation exhibition at Bowie Kitchen Café, 24 Coode Street, Mount Lawley is open daily 7am – 2.30pm until Monday, 13 July. Artist talks on Saturday, 4 July and Saturday, 11 July at 11am, 11.20am and 11.40am. Secure a place by calling (08) 9371 9900.

OIP staff

Declaration: OUTinPerth editor Graeme Watson is a staff member at ECU.


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