ReNew is an exhibition of works by the local community that respond to the 2019/20 bushfires, capturing our collective experience and subsequent journey to recovery and resilience. It documents and captures the spirit of our community during a challenging time, bringing neighbours and strangers together and forming new relationships witheachother and with the landscape that surrounds us. The artworks represent the experience of those that live, work or study in the Lithgow Region.

This is a Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund project through the joint Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Exhibition Details
The Annexe, At The Foundations
30 Williwa Street, Portland.
Enter at Wolgan Street Intersection
Exhibition Times
27 & 28 November – 10am – 3pm
4 December – 10am – 8pm
5 December 10am – 3pm
11 & 12 December 10am – 3pm

Cathy MacNamara

On December 21st 2019, The Gospers Mountain Bushfire devastated Clarence, Dargan and Bell. After several weeks of watching the fire getting closer and preparing our homes, our worst fears were realised when the fire impacted each village.

Over 25 homes were lost in our community. We are grateful that no lives were lost on the day. But many of our neighbours had their lives changed forever that day.

These images show the time immediately after the fire at my own property as we sifted through burnt possessions and searched for wildlife survivors.

Ana Carter

‘To Re'Kleim me - the adoption of discarding’

The adoption of discarded retail commodity is a key principal towards my art practice. To up-cycle resources that are massed produced and no longer of use to recreate, to renew. I have been using this principal just short of two decades. ‘To Re’kleim me’, is a raw approach I commenced in 2021 in allowing myself the liberty to accept my imperfections when creating a repetitive work on a mass manufacturing process, nothing global per say but in my studio setting. This is in reference to my rag trade career in the late 1980’s, and my reflection to a relationship with mental health. This process gave way to the core form of the pattern to create the creatures that I call Re’kleimmes ( a play on reclaim me). Part of my sensory work that I have been developing over the past year.

When asked to participate in the ReNew exhibition, I honoured yet overwhelmed at the same time. As I have only produced these creatures without an agenda other than mental release and I had reservations to whether I could direct them and to what impact that direction would have. So I allowed time, and gave grace and the process began.

These pieces themselves have been a multilayered process. I found all the materials used on Main street, Lithgow. A trip to the charity stores as well as Access Industry for sheeting. I headed out to the bush to grab dying material and began the process of dying each cloth with an assortment of grasses, leaves and barks. After this process, I began with assembling the basic shape. Then continued the assembly and by this time I had constructed 18 creatures of multiple fabrics, some had machine embellished other creatures, an assortment of cloth string, thread and buttons till each had their own story.

Even now as I write I am unaware of how these pieces will be installed. As the location has changed and I am more uncertain on how this work felt. I recall the fires and the evacuations. I was fortunate residing in the centre of town, on Main street and that my units had a fire hose that the owners had asked if we would hose the roofs down while the two fronts came in. The smoke was so thick and the burnt leaves glided through the chocking grey air. I had my suitcase packed and ready as I heard the screaming of the fire trucks and police race around town. Maybe why I choose to display this work in an old suitcase. There is much more I could talk of but that’s another story.

When you hold them, maybe they will tell you a story as creatures do. (Please do)

Hien Kim Thi Ngo

Regrowth 2021
Regrowth is created by mixed media, involving pyrography, paint, soft pastels and colour pencils. With each curved line and colours, details the flora and fauna reflection towards its strong, consistent recovery and resilience from the 2019/20 bushfires. Depicting a sense of Hope with the beautiful wildlife and what nature has overcame to then now a promising future.

Ana Carter - Performance

‘feelings are not real’
Part one - Collection point

This installation performance revolves around the theory that feelings are not real, but more a sensory overlay or compositions that the mind has evaluated and stores to navigate our perceptions of our future sensory input. For me to understand this and express this theory as a piece of my practice I will be doing a performance piece titled ‘Collection Point’. Part one

At the ‘collection point’ I will be asking for audience participation to reveal their feelings of the event in relation to the 2019/20 fires. Later in additional parts I will then transfer this information onto recycled material and create a cover for an armchair that I identify as my structure, my core principals and orientations that feel is my structure.

The ‘Collection Point’ will be operational during the exhibition hours, if you would like to make an appointment please text 0400 009 726 stating the following.
A name, a preferred time and day. If access to a mobile is not possible just drop in as feelings are always welcome.

Alice Hill-Butler


I’ve lived all my life in my small bush community Dargan, part of the Wollemi Wilderness. This body of work was filmed on my property a year before the 2019 Gospers Mountain fire hit my community. The film was done as part of my year 12 multimedia body of work for visual arts which focused on Australian seeds and climate change. My film still has a strong message 2 years post fire. Some of the bush species were able to bounce back from the destruction of the fire but others were changed by the extreme adverse events on the land and ecosystems. Climate change has challenged natures cycles and with increased temperatures and soaring fires, our bush landscape may never be the same as it was before. The film is an exploration of the endemic structure of Australian seeds and their adaptiveness to reproduce and survive fire and adverse conditions typical to Australia. I took inspiration from the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth to showcase the cyclic routine of nature to continually provide and adapt to adversity. In the film I have included shots of banksia and casuarina seeds opening in the fire to explain how nature is in balance with each of its elements. The fire helps the seeds to spread and become food for animal and bird species, something it has developed through adaptations over many generations. I also utilized white seeds dipped in plaster to contrast the unpainted natural Australian seeds and symbolize the death of Australian plant species, some of which may never be able to recover from the hot destruction of the fire.

Bryan Ludwick

Muldurie Spoons
“When the Kerry’s Ridge fire (part of the Gosper’s ‘mega fire’ impacted our property ‘Muldurie’ from the East of us (the Sunday before Xmas 2019), 90% of our 300 acres burnt. Using typical line defence, the fire was shepherded away from the Growee Gulph Way, and we thought all was good. But when a few days later, the fire jumped the control lines down towards Growee Gulph and headed back on the western side of Cox’s Creek, our fears returned. On New Year’s Day 2020, the fire jumped the control line of Cox’s Creek Road and burnt the rest of our place, bar the small area around the house and shed. Throughout this time, we were strongly supported by both Rural Fire Service and Fire & Rescue crews. Now we are blessed with the help of Gateway Family Services (Step by Step Bushfire Recovery Project) helping to restore our community to ‘normality’, one step at a time. These spoons are hand carved by Bryan from Black Cypress Pine (Callitris enderlicheri) which is native to the local Olinda / Rylstone area. The wood has been salvaged from trees burnt down when the fire swept through our property. A gift of something positive from adversity.”

Mary Abbott

Every Saturday for months a mobile vet van travelled to Clarence to treat injured wildlife.
The Kangaroos were given a light anaesthetic while their burns were treated and if necessary antibiotics administered.
The carers named this little fellow Bart, unfortunately like so many others he didn’t survive.

Only a few days after the fire I noticed lots and lots of fungi growing around the base of the burnt trees. Many of the fungi were brown, some looked like coral and these were some of the more colourful examples.
Fungus have a symbolic relationship with many native plants.

Some eucalyptus trees are well adapted to fire. Thick bark protects the shoots from the heat. The epicormic shoots allow the tree to continue photosynthesizing.
In this photo the regrowth is such a beautiful colour against the black trunk. Nature at her best.

Grass Trees
These grass trees were growing in Dargan. They are some of the first plants to regenerate after fire.
The growing tip is hidden deep within stem protected from the fire.
Fire stimulates grass trees to flower in Spring. Another great adaptation of our native flora.

Surprise Butterflies
Early March 2020 I went outside, it was a beautiful day and everywhere I looked there were butterflies. They looked like falling Autumn leaves.
I went inside to get my camera and spent the rest of the day taking photos. The next day they had all disappeared.
This was a great distraction from the constant sound of the chainsaws.

So many things on my block were burned but this bottlebrush survived. It is amazing how tightly the flowers are folded into buds.
Nature is awesome.

David Willson

My work is a piece of photography taken at Blast Furnace Park, showing the effects of the
Gospers Mountain Fire it is titled Resilience.
The Fires were a traumatic experience for so many in our community, but like Blast Furnace
Park it survives.

Delma Mudie

Two large stoneware vases glazed with the ashes from the thousands of trees burned down on our property at Clarence. Each vase was glazed with a different glaze formula hence the different colours.
The dominant ingredient was the ashes retrieved from the incinerated trunks and leaves of thousands of trees – all native species- which littered the land.
The inspiration was to create something permanent and useful from a total disaster and realise that beautiful memories can emerge from catastrophes.

Tim Newman

My strongest memory of the first glimpses I had of the impact of the fires ringing Lithgow, was one of raw shock. I recall gasping at the extremity of the devastation.

This work draws attention to the depth of the fire damage, the charred trees in the foreground and the chaotic detritus in the background. I added bitumen and shellac to paint in order to reinforce the sense of burnt subject matter.

Rising Again

I was surprised by my emotional reaction when revisiting the burn sites 4 weeks after the initial fire. The sight of the colours peeping through, hinting of something positive to come was very powerful.

I used bright acrylic colours to fight through the darker bitumen, gouache and shellac. Resilience poking its head through the darker bitumen, gouache and shellac. Resilience poking its head through saying ‘I’m on the way back’.

Henryk Topolnicki

Another Beginning
Following the 2019/2020 fires a friend of mine gave me a number of aluminium car parts which had been melted in the fires. They immediately caught my eye as they were very interesting abstract shapes. That is where the inspiration for Another Beginning came from. I knew immediately that I had to use them in a creative way and in that way preserve them as a memory of the Gospers Mountain fires. The addition of the tree branches came later, after endless observation of the devastated blackened landscape. The final additions to the piece were the emerging growth – the coloured leaves - and a solitary bird as a symbol of nature’s resilience and rebirth.

Linda Shreeve

Distraction from the black
This quilt is the result of my need to focus away from the black that surrounded us after the fires. I needed to not only work with lots of bright colours but also to have a design that due to its complexity forced my mind away from the problems that the fires had created.

Jen Quealy

Recovery comes in many forms (2019-2021)
As a Step by Step (SXS) Bushfire Recovery Worker (and prior to that a drought outreach worker) I have been invited into people’s lives, to their sheds, kitchen tables, farms, gardens, halls and utes, of many people, from the Olinda District in the Mid-West right through to Dargan and Bell in Lithgow and the Blue Mountains. These photos depict just some of the folk who have been impacted by both long-term droughts on their properties, and then catastrophic bushfires, followed by storms, floods and Covid-19. It has been a rollercoaster ride for so many residents. It was a humbling experience to be invited into both the trauma and the recovery steps over the last 2 years. These photos are from residents places on outreach visits. They show their resilient smiles through the heartache. It is simply wonderful to see glimmers of hope through the mess that has been created in lives and landscapes. Community events, one-to-one visits, dropping off donations, community workshops, health and wellness days and seeing volunteers and neighbours helping out are captured here. Behind them all, are endless conversations, negotiations, forms and applications, visits to service agencies and support groups – recovery is a deep and long walk through challenge, difficulty and some wins, joys and connections. What seems to work best for those going through the last few years has been the visits out to the people. Seeing the art, connection, creativity and the gardening bloom are just some of the recovery – in many forms.

Karleeta Chadwick-Ryan

Out of the Ashes
My grandmother Amy Moore from Illford, NSW was a fine leather craftswoman, who travelled far and wide, teaching her skills to other like-minded country folk, through CWA and TAFE. Grannie and I, at just 12-years old, would catch the early morning train to Sydney, then out to ‘Birdsall’ leather warehouse, on a large block at Taren Point. As she turned over the cowhides she’d explain to me which hides to choose, and which to leave: “These are the best for our projects”, and we would luf them back home.

During the late 70’s to mid-80’s Grannie created a booming cottage industry, where, with myself and two of her friends, she taught us the skills of leather carving. We carved patterns onto bags, belts, wallets and purses. Grannie would dye then and sew them and finish them for sale. We also made personalized LogBook covers for truckies, with an image of their own truck engraved and colour-dyed onto the leather.

I’ve always loved Australia gums and gumnuts, and was always designing our own patterns; back then, all the patterns came from overseas, and our Aussie pattern didn’t exist.

I reflect now on my days spend learning from Grannie, and having this bush craft passes on down through the generations and now know t has been such as wonderful gift. I didn’t realise as a young child how special it would be in later life.

Now thorough this work ‘Out of the Ashes’ I find a new twist on our old skills. My love of the gum, that one might say fueled our fires, along with Grannie’s passion for leathercrafts come together in these pieces; here I bring digital photography of the 2019-2020 catastrophic bushfires, together with the old leathercrafting and the bush that has been the creative inspiration, the sounds, smells and colours of my life. The photos were taken on my Dad Bill’s place ‘Bill’s bunkhouse’ that hosted many fine bush music gatherings.

I mix it all up – memory with making – to curate my own twist on generational leathercrafts from ‘Out of the Ashes’ of generations of families working on the land and loving the landscapes.

Michael Green

Joe’s Blue Eyes
Portrait of a hero
Michael Green painted this portrait of Joseph Lawrence Banney MM, who served 1915-1919, from Gallipoli to Pozieres in World War 1. Born to an Irish heritage farming family at Coraki, NSW in 1886, Joe’s blue eyes reflect the horror of frontline carnage of young Australian lives, yet still awake to the gruelling vigil lived on the frontline. Joe was awarded the Military Medal and others for his bravery, courage and loyalty over his four-year stretch. From being an infantryman with the 13th Battalion, to surgical assistant at the 2nd Australian Hospital at Armentieres, France, for his immense courage under fire. Joe, unlike many of his compatriots, returned home, to farming (bananas, until bunchy top blight wiped him out) and later on the PMG, as a linesman in the Central West of NSW. Joseph met and married Josephine Grono at Maraylya. They shared a few short wonderful years there and at his last post and home in Blayney as a ‘linesman for the county’ taking the first power out to the Central West of NSW. They had three kids, Patrick, Marie and Josie, who were just 7, 5 and 2 years old when Joe died overnight on Anzac Day 1937, from double pneumonia. Joe was buried in Blayney Cemetery, under a lone pine, but strangely, in an unmarked grave. The hero of Anzac, died on Anzac Day, remembered by his many grateful descendants.

In early 2021, the artist met one of the still-living descendants of Joseph, his daughter Marie Quealy (now 89), during her visit to the post-fire ravaged Dargan landscape, to the temporary caravan-home of the artist and his wife Senga. Marie was travelling with her daughter Jen (Joseph’s granddaughter) a bushfire recovery worker and red cross volunteer, where they got talking about Joseph’s service. Michael the artist had been returning to his pre-fire interests as part of his own recovery and following active service as a Volunteer with the Dargan RFS. The artist saw Joe as an ideal subject for the Gallipoli Art Prize. Joe personified a bravery faced by current-day firestorm fighters, like those in the 2019-20 bushfire catastrophe in Dargan, Blue Mountains NSW. The inspiration of Joe the Gallipoli hero resonated with the Artist, who has painted this as an honouring, and as an awakening as well, on his own recovery journey with Senga following the fire, and his own service to their community as a volunteer firefighter (now with the Bell Brigade, and as a couple who lost their own home and possessions including art materials, through the fires. Step By Step Bushfire Recovery and GIVIT public donations and others have assisted the Green’s community recovery including replacement of paints and an easel, to enable Joe, the Gallipoli hero to continue to inspire locals with the recovery principles of comradeship, love of country, community-mindedness and the importance of striving for the peace of a beautiful landscape and country, recovering from yet another tragedy.

Tenille Evans

Ways of Healing 2021. Mixed media wearable objects.

Healing is a process. It requires care, work and consideration. It requires many small actions, repeated over and over until slowly the pieces of what was broken are pulled back together. It doesn’t just happen to you. It’s repetitive and for the most part, it’s steps are unremarkable. Healing doesn’t happen in a flourish, it isn’t dramatic. It’s a slow and deliberate repair.

Our objects of domesticity hold stories of mourning and loss. They are universal objects that surround us all as we stitch our lives back together. They could be meaningless. In the same way, each individual story among the collective trauma of those few months could be meaningless. Except that it isn’t. Except that each story, each way of healing is important. Creativity is medicine for healing and each persons unique expression of creativity adds another element to our common story.

‘Ways of Healing’ suggests that there is some beauty in the tediousness of fixing things that were broken, if only you can stay in the moment. We each have our own repair process. Our own unique trauma and ways of healing. Our own methods of dressing our wounds. The creative act of repair itself becomes a protective talisman, a reminder.