Guests packed the opening of potter Robert Linigen and mosaicist Caitlin Hughes joint exhibition Fire Affected.
Blue Mountains artists Robert Linigen and Cailtin Hughes have put the ghosts of the 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires to rest with their joint exhibition Fire Affected which opened five years to the day of the event.
Potter Linigen and mosaicist Hughes both lost their homes in Yellow Rock in the fires of October 2013 and admit it’s been a long journey of recovery.
Both spent months digging under the earth and in the embers for ash, window glass, sandstone and copper from their old homes.
With a tiny kiln bought on ebay while waiting for a permanent home, Linigen started making cups as vessels of “comfort” and the idea sprang up to make 194 unique and random stoneware cups to mark all the homes that were lost. He has received awards for the work, including the 2018 Blue Mountains Art Prize.
And Hughes’s large sculptural works (including one pictured here showing a slice of a burnt tree – “burning from the inside the way homes burn and people burn”) is about destruction, resilience and regeneration.
In the bits and pieces of burnt wreckage of where her home used to stand, Hughes dug deep to salvage and repurpose melted steel and burnt glass to create new forms.
She said the passage of time had given her a chance to reflect on “trauma through to renewal, with both environmental and psychological observations” in her work.
“It’s about how the environment and the community crawls its way back.”
Linigen sold his land at Yellow Rock and is now re-established in a bush block in Leura.
“We did the right thing for us. We’ve settled in here now.”
Hughes, along with many of her neighbours, has rebuilt on the fireground but now works out of Woodford Academy, instead of from a home studio.
“The last five years has been a transformative time in our local community as well as for us personally. The support of the community and our friends over this time has been incredible,” Hughes said.
“But I could sell this new house tomorrow, it’s not the same [attachment],” she said.
Linigen said after the exhibition “all the glazes made from the salvaged materials will be used up, and its time to move onto other projects”.
“It’s a significant day for the whole of the Blue Mountains,” Hughes said.
The exhibition opened on Wednesday October 17 at Katoomba’s Gallery one88. It ends on October 28.
Both artists will gave talks in the gallery on Sunday October 21 and have sold many pieces.
The artists also hope their exhibition might travel in the future.