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Monday, 21 January, 2019,10:44

Art to help heal


A metal dragonfly fashioned from old fencing and barbed wire is one of the works of art at Renewal – A Black Saturday Memorial Exhibition.

A dragonfly was the first sign of life artists Dawn and Gary McDonnell saw on their return to their Nillumbik property after the fires – and it became a symbol of hope and renewal to them.

The couple is among 60 artists showcasing their work at an exhibition which runs from 25 January – 25 February at two locations in Nillumbik.

It commemorates a decade since the Black Saturday fires tore through Victoria, including Nillumbik, in one of the darkest days the State has ever experienced.

Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan said like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a feeling of renewal, fuelled by hope and courage, had emerged in the community.

“Hope is a flame that burns eternally, and many artists have found creating works of art a cathartic experience,” Egan said.

“Art speaks from the heart often saying what words cannot.”

Last year Council put a call out to artists inviting them to exhibit their work.

Their art includes a range of mediums – paintings, ceramics, sculptures, etchings, jewellery, print, wool, a digital movie and photographs.

Egan said many of the works are paintings that reflect the scars on the landscape that have healed over time – an outward manifestation of emotional scars which are often less easy to heal.

Others works of art are less traditional. One is made from latex casts of fallen trees in the Kinglake National Park.

Egan said for many artists, creating the pieces on display would have been a cathartic experience.

“Some works of art are for sale, others aren’t. Some visitors to the galleries will smile, others will be reduced to tears.

“But what I believe all will take away with them is the message of courage, healing and hope,” Egan said.

The exhibitions are at Wadambuk Art Gallery in St Andrews and the Eltham Library Community Gallery.

The exhibition was among seven Nillumbik community initiatives collectively awarded Victorian Government grants of nearly $33,000 to mark the 10th year after Black Saturday.

Opening times: Eltham Library Community Gallery  and St Andrews Community Centre 

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