What an amazing afternoon it was in James and Annabelle Tillbrook’s new and beautiful cellar door on Peramangk country. It was hard to imagine the devastation that occurred there over two and a half years ago. But when you see glass bottles twisted out of shape due to immense heat you begin to understand. 21 years of hard work destroyed in one afternoon. The bottles of HOPE wine are testament to the local community and beyond. There is a whole story here that needs to be told in its own right, hopefully as a follow up to this one, but the afternoon commenced with a welcome to their premises by Annabelle Tillbrook saying it is a privilege to host Belinda’s exhibition and be part of the launch of her new book.
Rachael Mead is a well known poet, writer and arts reviewer living in South Australia. She has an Honours degree in Classical Archaeology, a Masters in Environmental Studies and a PhD in Creative writing. She introduced us to the work of Belinda Broughton and spoke of its depth of meaning. ‘Finding strength in the resilience of her bushland home, Broughton creates a lyrical personal history that speaks of what it means to lose everything, yet still trust in family, community and the natural world to sustain her through the darkest of times’
“Echidnas don’t live here any more” was officially released.
And then Belinda spoke of how she and her partner lost everything, their stories, their art work, their lifetimes’ collections, their everything except each other and their’s and the lands recovery.
‘Recovery’ is in inverted commas because it sounds like past tense to me, whereas recovery is still very much a struggle for most. It is time for this, in many ways, certainly for me. But to go anywhere near that, I had to clear myself. Thus this book. The visual work, (which does, indeed include poetry)also contains some cathartic work. Well, how could it not? And she reads excerpts from her book. Within the audio is explanations of how the drawings came about.
ECHIDNAS —ANY MINUTE NOW Artist Statement: Belinda Broughton
For many years the cycle of chaos to order to chaos has been the conceptual and practical underpinning of my art. No less now. How chaotic is fire. How chaotic is the aftermath? And what do we seek afterwards other than order? Of course, we never find order for long, because order is inherently unstable.
Ink is the perfect medium to work on this. The process that I use invites chaos and accident and, at this time, I felt it was useful to allow the subconscious to find expression.
In this third year, the lives of total fire victims are still revolving around recovery. At the same time, they are sick of the subject and want to broaden their activities and minds into other areas. They would like to have their joy back, please. They seek to expand while still being held back by various facets of the recovery.
My answer to all that, in this third year after losing everything, was to commit myself to poetry and visuals for this exhibition. I was seeking expansion of ideas but, even so, almost everything I produced referenced the fire.
The book, Echidnas Don’t Live Here Any More, contains most of the poems I wrote since the fire and thus is a document of recovery. How could it not be? It also reveals the multifaceted quality of the experience, by no means all grim. There is much beauty, joy, love, and even laughter through times like these. Gratefulness, kindness, generosity, raw and open hearts. Vulnerability is a quality that shows us our humanity.
The images also continue to reference the fire. How could they not? Ask the subconscious to talk and it will. Particularly evident is my great sorrow at the devastation of the bushland in which I live. The bushland looks verdant, and is growing with all of its considerable might, but it takes a long time to grow a tree and replace habitat.
Despite this sorrow and that the images and the poems explore the fire’s aftermath, it has been a cathartic experience to create this show. Now, two years and eight months after the fire, my body begins to relax.