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New Life


Tue 10 Mar 2020, 9:00am
Wed 11 Mar 2020, 9:00am
Thu 12 Mar 2020, 9:00am
Fri 13 Mar 2020, 9:00am
Sat 14 Mar 2020, 9:00am

Where: Merrylands RSL, 8–12 Miller St, Merrylands, New South Wales

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free
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Listed by: dwrights

This exhibition, New Life, shows images of recovery from the Blue Mountains bushfires in 1993. I was living in Clovelly in 1993 and on the weekend of those fires I happened to be swimming at Bronte Beach in the Eastern Suburbs. Quite suddenly my friend and I found that a light grey substance was falling on our heads as we swam. We worked out it was ash. It became clear from the news later in the day that the ash had travelled to us from the fires in the Blue Mountains.

I was intrigued that delicate ash could travel such a distance. My friend and I decided to travel up to the Blue Mountains the next weekend. We met a third friend who lived in the mountains. He took us to affected areas. What quickly caught our attention was the green re-growth just one week after the fires.

The resilience of Xanthorreas (grass trees) amazed me as they escaped devastation where all else was burnt. The paintings in this exhibition are based upon the photographs we took on that weekend expedition. The core message is not to clear the burnt plants and logs as they are home to animals, reptiles and birds. An Australian Geographic article titled Wildlife needs fire-damaged and dead trees after fires discusses this. It is to be hoped that the green will re-appear as quickly as it did in 1993.
Most of the paintings show small patches of bush to highlight what is re-growing on specific trees. One painting shows a long-distance view of burnt trees above the Nepean River.

I have looked at our painters who have made paintings of bushfires. In the bushfire paintings of Eugene von Guerard, one of our colonial artists, his focus is upon the atmospheric and climactic effects of bushfires. He shows us red clouds billowing across a night sky with a yellow/white moon in the distance. These paintings create an emotional response in me as I look at their strange beauty and terror as I consider the heat of the flames that generated the clouds.

The title New Life also relates to the lithographs (works on paper) in the exhibition. There are two series of lithographs: Charli’s Garden and Manuka Pool.

The Charli’s Garden lithographs are illustrations for a children’s picture book based upon the adventures of my pet rabbit Charli in my garden. Charli has adventures with native and introduced animals in my garden and the lithographs show the seasonal changes that take place. The book will be published towards the end of this year.

The Manuka Pool lithographs show families enjoying a swim at the Manuka Swimming Pool in Canberra and document a change in my life. When I married I moved to Canberra to live with my husband Denis. We both love the pool’s garden setting and its Art Deco architecture. When Canberra was a very new city Manuka Pool was the only public pool. The Taverner family managed the Manuka Pool for two generations. In a history of the pool it is said that if children were misbehaving they would be banned from the pool by the Taverners for a week. This was cruel punishment indeed in the hot summer of Canberra. Generations of Canberra children feared such discipline and sought to avoid it.

I think of my “new life” begun in Canberra, and many of the families drawn in these lithographs have tiny babies and toddlers with them. I am thinking also of the Australian families who have missed their beach holidays this year either to fight fires on behalf of others or to save their own homes.