Arts & Culture

The essence of 2020 captured in art and culture around the region

Kim Treasure3 January 2021

If 2020 was a screenplay, most of us would have thought it was a work of fiction.

The highs and lows played out on a global stage were also reflected in life within our region.

It’s been a tough 12 months for the arts, but there have also been some remarkable achievements.

We’ve put together the top dozen arts and culture stories you enjoyed in 2020. Guess which one is at number one?

12. Photo comp to celebrate memories of Sugar Pine Walk

Trees in Sugar Pine Walk before the area was destroyed by bushfire.

Sugar Pine Walk in Bago State Forest, between Tumut and Tumbarumba, before it was destroyed by bushfire. Photo: Supplied.

As machines and forestry workers prepared for the impending removal of the Sugar Pine Walk plantation in Bago State Forest, between Tumut and Tumbarumba, there was an opportunity for creative expression of the despair felt by people with an affinity for the wilderness region.

Forestry Corporation of NSW launched a photo competition to mark the passing of the iconic tourist attraction, which was extensively damaged in the 2019-2020 bushfire season.

11. Harry wins international people’s voice award

Harry Cleverdon performing with guitar onstage.

Young’s Harry Cleverdon won the People’s Voice Award at the 2020 International Songwriting Competition. Photo: Supplied.

It was a big week for Young singer-songwriter Harry Cleverdon when he not only celebrated his 18th birthday, but also claimed the People’s Voice award at the International Songwriting Competition.

His song and music video, Hit Me While I’m Down, came out on top in a competition that fielded more than 18,000 entries from 140 countries.

10. Batemans Bay art initiative gathers Postcards from the Fire

Girl covering face at Malua Bay beach with bushfire in background.

An anonymous entry to Postcards from the Fire, taken on Malua Bay beach on New Year’s Eve 2019. Photo: Supplied.

Creative Arts Batemans Bay (CABBI) launched a community healing project called Postcards from the Fire, in which anyone affected by the Black Summer bushfires could submit photos and stories.

“Postcards is a virtual gallery on Instagram and Facebook of what the 2019-2020 bushfire season made of our world, as seen through the lenses of our community members,” said CABBI president Robert Creed.

Boy on trampoline watching smoke from approaching bushfire.

Bushfire approaching a property north of Moruya on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Diana D.

9. Dhurga dictionary brings language to life

Sisters Patricia Ellis (left) and Kerry Boyenga (right).

Sisters Patricia Ellis and Kerry Boyenga, who co-authored the Dhurga Dictionary with their brother, Waine Donovan. Photo: Supplied

Dhurga is one of the languages of the Yuin Nation, spoken on the NSW South Coast and Southern Tablelands. On 10 July, The Dhurga Dictionary and Learner’s Grammar was launched at Moruya Library, the culmination of dedicated work by siblings Patricia Ellis, Kerry Boyenga and Waine Donovan.

8. Braidwood Heritage Centre proposal to tap into town’s rich past

Exterior of Braidwood Museum.

The Braidwood Museum which was built in the 1840s. Photo: Supplied.

Of the three million people travelling through Braidwood each year, how many have wondered just what’s behind the impressive stone facade of the local museum, or popped in to have a look?

Not nearly enough, according to the Braidwood and District Historical Society, which plans to change that. It unveiled an exciting multi-million dollar plan to help develop the town’s tourism potential.

7. Bega Valley musicians The New Graces and Corey Legge surging the country charts

Musician Corey Legge.

Bega-raised musician Corey Legge will release his second album in September. Photo: Supplied.

Bega Valley musicians Corey Legge and The New Graces kept each other company in the country music top-10 charts this year.

The New Graces – comprising band members Robyn Martin, Kate Burke and Melanie Horsnell – held a place in the Australian Country Radio and ABC Country top 10 after the release of their debut album, Seasons, in April, while Corey’s single, Fireball, reached number eight on the Australian Country Radio chart and number three on the AMRAP Regional chart.

6. South Coast arts community mourns the loss of Linda Heald

Linda Heald standing in park.

Moruya Red Door Theatre Company’s artistic director Linda Heald lost her battle with cancer in 2020. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Linda Heald, who directed the Red Door Theatre in Moruya and was Eurobodalla Shire Council’s library chief, lost her battle with cancer in 2020.

Linda was also an enthusiastic proponent for arts and culture on the NSW South Coast and has been badly missed by the local community.

“Linda exited stage left,” said Moruya Red Door Theatre president Anthony Mayne. “She had been battling cancer for some time, yet somehow managed to direct two plays during this time.”

5. Broulee store a hub for local creativity

Bliss & Trove's Greta Sharman, pictured with her artwork.

Bliss & Trove’s Greta Sharman, pictured with her artwork. Photo: Kat McCarthy.

As an artist and producer of organic skincare and beeswax products, Greta Sharman appreciates the value of a space dedicated solely to the wares of local artisans. Her Broulee store, Bliss & Trove, was established in that spirit.

Mogo’s Greta – known for the well-loved Bliss honey products, produced by her beekeeper husband, Tom – opened the Broulee store that is stocked exclusively with the work of Eurobodalla artists hailing from Long Beach to Congo.

4. Screen legend Max Cullen: From glitz and glam to a run-down theatre out bush

Max Cullen and his wife, Margarita Georgiadis, in The Picture House Gallery.

Max Cullen and his wife, Margarita Georgiadis, in The Picture House Gallery in Gunning. Photo: Hannah Sparks.

In 2003, Max Cullen and his artist wife, Margarita Georgiadis, walked away from the glitz and glamour of Sydney and moved to a run-down theatre out bush.

Their former city neighbours relished the peace and quiet after living next to what was the 3 am ‘local’ for Cullen and Georgiadis’s actor and artist friends. But ironically, the couple has also settled into the Southern Tablelands village of Gunning without any qualms.

3. Social scalpels out for Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk

Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk installation.

The latest sculpture installed at Batemans Bay is proving controversial. Photo: Kim Treasure.

The latest additions to Batemans Bay’s Sculpture Walk provoked a social media storm, with some critics labelling one a “dangerous rust bucket” and another “malnourished whale tails”.

For the small, hardworking Sculpture for Clyde committee, it could be seen as a kick in the guts, but volunteer Maggie Brennan preferred to look at it as lively public debate.

“It’s public debate and it’s about art so that’s a good thing,” she said.

2. Former Bega local’s fun face-masks a crafty response to COVID-19

Bronwyn Napiorkowski wearing face mask.

Former Bega local Bronwyn Napiorkowski models one of her handmade face masks. Photo: Supplied.

A Bega woman, who posted her handmade facemask on Instagram, was inundated with orders for her colourful, washable masks. Bronwyn Napiorkowski had stumbled on a surprise COVID-19 business.

1. Tiger of Mogo roars into Archibald Prize contention

Chad Staples from Mogo Wildlife Park holding portrait painted by Lord DJ Stief.

Chad Staples from Mogo Wildlife Park with the portrait painted by the park’s resident artist, Lord DJ Stief. Photo: Supplied.

Mogo Wildlife Park zookeeper Chad Staples shot to national attention when he led his team in the battle against the devastating Black Summer bushfires. Later in the year his fighting spirit was celebrated in an entry in the 2020 Archibald Prize.

Painted by Mogo Wildlife Park’s resident artist, Lord DJ Stief, the work is titled The Tiger of Mogo and was inspired by Chad’s leadership, first through the bushfires and then through the park’s closures and reopenings due to the fires and COVID-19.

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