Life in isolation

Yarra Valley photographer Suzanne Phoenix has documented the impact of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions for people in the Upper Yarra with a series of isolation portraits.

Over 30 households have been photographed at their front gate or in their gardens, back yards, farm paddocks and even by the pool. Included are farmers, tradies, academics and drag kings along with a menagerie of dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, chickens, turtles, sheep, pygmy goats and pigs.

Each household has also written of their experience of self-isolation and a magazine featuring the isolation portraits and their stories will be launched online as part of Yarra Valley Writers Festival at 6pm on Thursday 28 May.

“I believe it is important to document the lives of local people at a grassroots level during this time for historical purposes,” Ms Phoenix said. “The project is also bringing the community together after being apart with very positive responses from the local community.”

“I know It’s not everyone’s ‘bag’ and it has been so hard for some people but Covid-19 has revealed to me that everything I need is ‘here’, right here, In my home, my family and in this extraordinary and resilient little community, and, yeah, I feel very fortunate,” Mel Joy of Wesburn said.

“But that hush. In a way, for me, it’s a dream come true. And that’s not being simply cavalier.” Michael Veitch said.

“Looking forward, it will be an interesting re-entry into a brave new world. Will people still be afraid to connect with the stigma of social distancing or will we wholeheartedly embrace these gatherings and have a genuine appreciation for human connection? I’ve got a feeling it will be the latter.” Mark Fenech of Warburton said.

The isolation portraits are being exhibited as transparencies in the windows of a number of businesses in the Upper Yarra including The Flying Apron Patisserie, Baroona Produce and Pet Supplies and Yarra Valley Artisan Baker.

“I saw the photographs this morning and it made my day, it felt like a reunion seeing the faces of my friends and people in my community,” Dakini Maddox of Wesburn said.

For more information about Ms Phoenix’s upcoming Isolation Portraits magazine, visit