Artists involved in this year’s River of Art festival on the NSW Far South Coast are among those left picking up the pieces from a fire that destroyed two businesses and impacted several others in Narooma on the evening of Sunday, 20 September.
Seven artworks depicting local scenery were on exhibition in the windows of The Hair Room when it burnt down, according to Narooma Visitor Centre’s Alison Spurgeon, who helped to organise the exhibition in town.
She said it was “devastating” in a year already plagued by bushfires, floods and COVID-19 on the South Coast.
“We had hardly got the artworks up and this happened,” said Ms Spurgeon. “We are doing everything we can to support the artists. We have to work out the insurance and we have expressed our sympathies to the artists.
“We are all in this together and just doing the best we can.”
The River of Art festival began on Friday, 18 September, with a theme of ‘resilience and renewal’, which recognises that the South Coast’s regional artists and creative communities are still in the process of recovering from a year of devastating events.
Businesses have also been impacted and artists were invited to exhibit their work inside Narooma businesses this year as a way of supporting them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were just trying to brighten up the town, create a community feeling and exhibit the works in a way that meant people could see them from the streets,” said Ms Spurgeon. “Now this has happened.”
The artists who lost their work in the fire are also exhibiting in other Narooma businesses, including Ezyprint, Narooma Footwear and Silly Willy’s.
“It would be great if people could go and see them, and support them in the other businesses,” said Ms Spurgeon.
River of Art is one of the few events that managed to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and will showcase creative exhibitions and performances across the South Coast – from Durras to Tilba – until Sunday, 27 September.