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Portrait puts local identities in focus

Stunning portraits by Moruya photographer Peter Vassallo will be on show at the Dr Mackay Centre in Moruya from May 17-27 as part of River of Art.

Portrait will feature photographs capturing the personality of 20 Eurobodalla identities, including Texas Dave, Damien Coen, Tim Burke, Indira Carmichael and Ed Tierney.

Mr Vassallo is a member of Council’s School of Possibilities Art Group, a vocational employment training project that assists people with disability to develop their individual talents and potentially earn an income.

He is best known for his photographic landscapes and said the foray into portraiture for the exhibition was a new experience.

“I was encouraged in the art group to try portraits and it was a good opportunity to expand my skills,” he said.

“I enjoy it, but I do get nervous at times. You’ve got to tell them to pose, where to stand and how to look.

“My portrait work is character and subject centric – it’s centred on their life, what they do and their personality.”

Mr Vassallo, who has cerebral palsy, has enjoyed photography since he was a “little kid wasting film”. It changed from a hobby to something more serious in 2015 when Ability Links and My Choice Matters provided him with a grant to buy his first digital SLR and hold his first exhibition.

Mr Vassallo said photography gave him the independence to pursue something all on his own.

“I love the freedom of it, just to be able to grab the camera and walk out the door and not have to rely on other people,” he said.

“It’s also given me a deeper appreciation of the environment.”

Mr Vassallo credits the School of Possibilities Art Group with giving him the push he needed to take his photography more seriously.

“I’m still learning so it’s a long road from hobby to career, but I would like to pursue it. Doing commission work is difficult due to my lack of access to transport, but it is something I would love to do,” he said.

An opening event for Peter Vassallo’s exhibition Portrait, officiated by local designer, craftsman and photographer Toby Whitelaw, will be held Thursday 17 May from 6pm-7.30pm at the Dr Mackay Centre, 9 Page St, Moruya - all welcome. The exhibition will continues Monday-Saturday, from 9.30am to 3.30pm, until Saturday 26 May. All works in the exhibition will be for sale.

Above: Moruya photographer Peter Vassallo has focussed on portraiture for his latest exhibition at Dr Mackay Centre in Moruya during River of Art.

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