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'Postcards from the Fire' the Gallery in Mogo from the 2nd to 11th October

The 'Postcards from the Fire' physical exhibition has been locked in. Photographs portraying memories from the 2019/20 summer bushfire tragedy will be on display at The Gallery in Mogo from the 2nd to 11th October. The exhibition is open to the public from 10am to 4pm daily.

'Postcards from the Fire' exhibition, to be held at The Gallery in Mogo from 2nd to 11th October - Images above and below by Frances Southon

Over the past few months, Creative Arts Batemans Bay (CABBI), asked the community to share "their recent bushfire experience” through photographs and stories, as part of this community healing project.

Hundreds of photographs were submitted and now 232 have been selected to go in this exhibition.

"We were overwhelmed with the number of submissions", said CABBI President Mr Robert Creed. "It shows how many people have been impacted by this disaster. And you didn't have to lose your home to be deeply affected. Thousands of people in our community suffered stress and anxiety. Having to evacuate time and time again, not knowing what you might come home to. It really took a toll on people."

Supported by Coordinare's South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network ‘Supporting Communities in Recovery’ program, the initiative aims to build resilience and promote emotional healing, and aid in the post trauma recovery. CABBI invites everyone, whether directly affected by the fires or not, to experience the 'Postcards from the Fire' Exhibition, to share what the people directly affected felt and experienced.

An audio soundscape of recorded interviews will play in the background of the exhibition, capturing recollections.

"The intention is to use storytelling as a healing tool. It's a means to understand where we were then, and provide a path forward towards healing and recovery." said Creed.

To maintain COVID safe practices, numbers in the gallery will be restricted throughout the exhibition.

"It's been a challenge to lock in the physical exhibition, with so much uncertainty around COVID19. Larger venues won't take bookings for events, and we couldn't predict whether ongoing COVID restrictions would mean an eventual cancellation."

The committee decided the safest way to run the exhibition was to host it in their CABBI-owned art gallery that is already open every day, and where they can limit the number of attendees. If the gallery is getting busy, it is easy for visitors to kill time visiting other businesses and cafes in Mogo, all of whom were affected by the fires.

A short opening ceremony for the event, including a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by the elders of the Mogo Land Council, will be broadcast live on Facebook on Friday October 2nd (approximately 10am).

Seven feature photographs have been selected to be included in a silent auction at the event, with all proceeds being donated to BlazeAid. Bidding will take place at the exhibition over the 10 days. Successful bidders will be notified on Monday 12 October.

This photographic exhibition will then be followed by a painting and sculpture exhibition of the same theme, from the 14 October to 1 November, with the artists of the Mogo Land Council participating, as their Gallery has been destroyed during the fires.

The committee extends a big thank you to those who have participated in the project so far. The community is encouraged to continue to upload photographs and stories, or get in touch to arrange an interview. Every story, your own story, is important. Photographs will continue to be posted on the virtual galleries on Instagram and Facebook.

As many of us nervously await the next summer period, and watch a horrifying fire season playing out in the USA on our televisions, many are wondering whether further tragedy is around the corner here.

Before we look too far in the future, this 'Postcards from the Fire' exhibition is a tribute to the Rural Fire Service personnel and to all the people of our community; those who lost their lives and those who lost everything they held sacred. This journey however, is not over.

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