With Our Own Eyes
Locals and school holiday visitors now have an extra week to cast their eyes over a compelling showcase of works from an exciting new project – With Your Own Eyes – installed in Rustic Pantry’s windows on Moruya’s main street.
Works by photographer Toby Whitelaw, a montage of printmaker Julie Mia’s Holmes observations, and an oil painting by part-time teacher and farmer Cathie Cahill are on show - along with a trove of local stories, drawings, poetry and recollections, many drawn from last summer’s fires.
Currawong Currowan, Toby Whitelaw
With Our Own Eyes is an innovative project helping locals to record and share the climate changes they’re seeing in Eurobodalla’s waterways, forests, oceans and backyards.
A web-blog will preserve all these contributions digitally - for safe keeping and sharing - and will be launched online later this year.
“ After the toughest summer our shire has faced, we hope that With Our Own Eyes can help our community to paint a portrait of what we are dealing with locally, and what we can do. It’s our local story told through our eyes. “ says project co-coordinator Magella Blinksell.
“ We’ve had such a great response from locals, artists, gardeners, and photographers, from wild life carers, from those who fought the fires and bushfire survivors wanting to share what they’ve seen.”
A showcase of works from the project have been on display in Rustic Pantry’s shop windows in Moruya since the project’s premiere at River of Art’s ‘Art on Parade’.
Burnt Offerings 2.0, linocut, Julie Mia Holmes and Julie Mia Holmes working on Burnt Offerings 2.0
“We’ve had such heart-felt feedback from locals moved by seeing the display, that we’ve been lucky to be able to extend its run at Rustic Pantry so more folk can catch it.” says Ms Blinksell
The display features a kids’ corner in the arcade window, haiku and projects that inspire - while touching across the depth and breadth of the damage wrought by last summer’s ‘forever fires’. Unprecedented and converging bushfires burnt almost 80 per cent of Eurobodalla, sharp on the heels of Australia’s hottest decade, with ongoing flow-on effects for wildlife, flowering trees, bees, marine life and rivers.
Jillian Edwards - photo montage and Photography - Jenni Knight
Bodalla local, Ursula Nixon whose poem ‘Aftermath’ features in the display, re-traces the charred and wounded landscape she travelled through on a drive up the Clyde Mountain in February through Batemans Bay, Mogo, Moruya and home. The emotional aftermath of the fires - which community will experience for some time to come – is also beautifully wrought in her poetic map of Eurobodalla’s black summer.
Jess Higgins, now a Canberra-based printmaker and a Tuross girl who came close to losing her artwork during the fires, displays her relief cuts of a stylised water bombing helicopter and the RFS fire fighters who worked tirelessly to protect homes and lives.
Paired with climate haiku by artist Katherine White, they drive home how personal and epic - (and how local) - changes to our climate are.
Over head & Untitled #3 (In memory of everything you did), 2020
Relief print sunique state on Hosho paper, Jess Higgins
Haiku, katherine White
Photo - Gillianne Tedder
Awe and wonder are celebrated too. Eurobodalla’s precious plants and wildlife – part of the region’s rich interconnected tapestry of bushlands, wetlands, estuaries, waterways and habitat – are beautifully captured by artists Jenni Knight, Jillian Edwards and Julie Armstrong. Roaming with macro lenses and sometimes with just their mobile phones in hand, their work underlines what is to be valued and protected after a cataclysmic summer
across the south east. A photograph of native bees finding pollen in a flowering hakea offers a particular resonance, with Rustic Pantry and customers still unable to source local honey with so much forest burnt, and so many flowering trees destroyed during the fires.
Holding close the precious natural world that gives joy and solace, and which ultimately sustains us, is a key element of the With Our Own Eyes project, and a central focus of the upcoming web blog.
The project’s co-ordination team includes former teacher Lyn Smith, and Rosedale Bushfire survivor Jack Egan, who defended and lost his home on the morning of New Year’s Eve in one of the Currowan Fire’s most treacherous firestorms.
Jack is curating locals’ nature observations.
“Climate change is happening fast, too fast for many animals and plants to adapt to by ordinary evolution. So, those have to either migrate south or uphill to cooler climates. But some species will already be at the limit of their range. We have to watch out for them with our own eyes and help them out.” says Jack.
“ Our species, homo sapiens, has caused this quick climate change. We have to help the plants and animals with whom we share this planet to get through as best we, and they, can.”
Photo - Julie Mia Holmes
To contribute your art, photographs, creative responses, and nature observations of what you’ve seen during, after and before the fires, while surfing, skiing, gardening, fishing, or just hanging out in your favourite place, or while watching local wildlife, email With Our Own Eyes.
Photo montage - Julie Armstrong, Studio 369
*** With Our Own Eyes is on display in Rustic Pantry’s windows, Vulcan st
Moruya until Monday 5 Oct ****
The project is supported by local bush fire survivors, wild life carers and 350 Eurobodalla