OUT of the ashes of the Wooroloo Bushfire comes a collection of sculptures showcasing the beauty that can be found in moments of devastation.
For Elaine Palfrey, creating art from burnt out fence posts, cutlery and machinery parts collected from the remains of her fire ravaged home was as much a mentally cathartic process as a practical one.
“When the destruction happened and there was so much debris on our property, I put some stuff aside and thought one day I want to turn this mess into something that’s nice and beautiful,” she said.
“It’s exciting, to create something beautiful.
“It ties back into that journey from what’s happened to now, it was a very healing process.”
Ms Palfrey, who lost almost everything in the February 2021 blaze, was a participant in a recent workshop for the first Australian Rustic Farm Art Awards, presented by the Gidgegannup Agricultural Show (October 29).
The theme of the first awards, Out of the Ashes, invites entrants to submit pieces of work made from items destroyed or found in the aftermath of the Wooroloo Bushfire.
Her piece, a flower coming to life, symbolises the physical and mental regeneration of life after the fire.
“At the very beginning when this all happened and we settled a bit, we got a motorhome as temporary accommodation so we could live on the property,” Ms Palfrey said.
“We were sitting outside our motorhome looking at this what I call a ‘black canvas’ because it was all black, when we saw these flowers coming out of the ground.
“We thought this is the next part of our journey to move forward because things are regenerating and we knew things were going to be okay just seeing those flowers come out from the ground.”
Artist and workshop host Neil Elliott said art helped facilitate a create process which allowed participants to express their grief in their own way.
“The others made kind of fun pieces which was a bit of escapism therapy whereas Elaine’s was definitely relating to her experience which was really important too,” he said.
The award is the first of its kind in Australia encouraging creative excellence through farm art, also known as junk art.
“There are a lot of locals that are still doing it tough so we thought at the show we could have this exhibition to honour these people, starting with their rusted out bits of machinery and material that can be repurposed,” Gidgegannup local and Agricultural Show committee member Hugh Burges said.
“The theme, Out of the Ashes, represents the community rising up and that there is hope ahead.”
A second two-day workshop, open to all at the Mundaring Adult Creative Learning Centre, is being held on August 27 and 28.
Entries into the award close October 9.
By Claire Ottaviano