11 September 2019

Peter's talent one of many to flow through Eurobodalla River of Art

| Ian Campbell
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Moruya photographer Peter Vassallo. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Moruya photographer Peter Vassallo. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

A Moruya photographer who confesses to once being a “little kid who wasted film” will take centre stage at the Eurobodalla River of Art Festival.

The work and growing talent of Peter Vassallo will be on show at the Dr Mackay Centre in Moruya, with visitors treated to Peter’s stunning portraits of twenty local personalities.

The faces staring back include community radio presenter and musician Texas Dave, stroke survivor and singer-songwriter Damien Coen, Narooma stalwart Tim Burke, artist Indira Carmichael, and Narooma musician Ed Tierney.

“My portrait work is character and subject centric – it’s centred on their life, what they do and their personality,” Mr Vassallo says.

“I enjoy it, but I do get nervous at times. You’ve got to tell them to pose, where to stand and how to look.”

Mr Vassallo is a member of Eurobodalla Shire Council’s School of Possibilities Art Group, a vocational employment training project that assists people with disabilities to develop their individual talents and potentially earn an income.

Up until now, Mr Vassallo was best known for his photographic landscapes and said the foray into portraiture for the exhibition was a new experience.

“I was encouraged in the art group to try portraits and it was a good opportunity to expand my skills,” he says.

Mr Vassallo, who has cerebral palsy, has enjoyed photography since he was a “little kid wasting film.”

It changed from a hobby to something more serious in 2015 when Ability Links and My Choice Matters provided him with a grant to buy his first digital SLR and hold his first exhibition.

“I love the freedom of it, just to be able to grab the camera and walk out the door and not have to rely on other people,” he says.

“It’s also given me a deeper appreciation of the environment.”

Mr Vassallo credits the School of Possibilities Art Group with giving him the push he needed to take his photography more seriously.

“I’m still learning, it’s a long road from hobby to career, but I would like to pursue it.”

“Doing commission work is difficult due to my lack of access to transport, but it is something I would love to do,” he says.

Opening night for Peter Vassallo’s exhibition – “Portrait” will be hosted by local designer, craftsman and photographer Toby Whitelaw, on Thursday May 17 from 6 pm-7.30 pm at the Dr Mackay Centre, 9 Page St, Moruya. The community is welcome.

Portrait will continue Monday-Saturday, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, until May 26. All works in the exhibition will be for sale.

Every town and village in the Eurobodalla boasts an eclectic mix of artistic experiences during the 10 days of the River of Art Festival.

Music, film, visual arts, open studios, wearable art, workshops and performance from Durras to Batemans Bay to Broulee, Tuross Head, Bodalla, and Tilba will all be on display at the Festival.

River of Art runs May 17 to 26, check the festival website for the full program.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

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I read this story because of the two starkly different photos next to Peter on the bench. I’m glad I did. Good work!

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