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'OUT of the ASHES' rises like phoenix for local artists

The recent bushfires, and now Covid-19, have brought a major impact to the South East. From the ashes of the fires that destroyed so much of our region there has also come warmth, generosity and a collective community spirit that comes from so many sharing the same traumas and emotions. Denise Straty was one of the many recovery personnel called into the region after the fires. She saw for herself the impact and she learnt of the lives of those affected. By way of a meeting with Amanda, of Amanda's at Mogo, Denise learnt of the impact to the many South East artists and of their responses by way of art to the bushfires. Wanting to do what she could for those she met she returned to Sydney with an idea. To hold an ‘Out of the Ashes’ exhibition next month at The Wellington Gallery – a stunningly chic warehouse space in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Waterloo.

Gallery owners Mark and Ray had generously offered the use of their exquisite venue and kindly waived any commission so that the full proceeds of each art sale would flow through to the participating South Coast artists.

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, they have had to put the dream of a physical exhibition on hold for the moment, but the good news is they’ve created the exhibition as a Facebook e-gallery where they invite visitors to read artists’ posts describing their individual tales of survival during the unprecedented deadly fire season and view their spectacular artworks. The first of the artists profiled in this Beagle series is Julie Mia Holmes

Out of the Ashes: Julie Mia Holmes To support my art practice I work at our local bookshop, Moruya Books - the best Bookshop on the coast! Many novels I have read and loved have inspired my prints. Reading is a compass; it always points me in the right direction. During and after the fires working in the bookshop was a very intense and emotional experience. As a retail worker you are usually subjected to most people’s problems – we really are underpaid counsellors! Listening to everybody’s horrific stories throughout this time was emotionally draining and traumatic. So many regular customers and friends lost their homes and their beloved belongings. My partner and I evacuated our home twice. We spent one night in the evacuation centre in Moruya and the second night in the bookshop. I am so grateful to have such a kind and generous boss. We were very lucky, we were one of the last little patches of green left on the coast. Burnt leaves, insects and many dead birds washed up on the tide line on our local beach as the fires moved down the coastline towards us. The tide serves as a perfect metaphor for the nature of living through the fire, it’s sudden conflagration followed by evacuation and destruction and then calm benign days. The wait for the next round of severe fire conditions worsening. Months and months of suspended time and trauma, lives on hold. As an artist whose practice is wholly focused on the environment, coming to terms with the loss of our forests, flora and fauna has been devastating. The only tonic for this despair? To keep working. - Julie Mia Holmes

Shells Offering Solace (Pink/Blue) - Hardground etching with foul bite and hand colouring

57 x 39cm - Unframed $350

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