‘Fire painter’s’ brush with Mt Nardi fire
WOODFIRE artist Kerry Selwood's love of flames turned into fear when he suddenly found himself in the line of fire.
The Channon resident and former cattle farmer was preparing his works for The Alchemists, Woodfire Ceramics exhibition when the encroaching Mt Nardi fire forced him to evacuate from his home and studio.
"In my 35 years there I have not seen fires like this," he said.
"The fire was close enough that if the wind changed direction, we could have been reached by the flames.
"We were surrounded by 30 metre trees and live in a very hilly area, it was quite dramatic having decide what to take.
"I put quite a collection of ceramics from friends and other potters out in an open paddock - because they would withstand the fire, they may have even been enhanced by the process."
In the 1970s the Northern Rivers became a hub for a group of like minded artists, including Mr Selwood, passionate about the traditional ways of wood-firing ceramics which involves firing, sometimes over days, feeding timber into a handmade kiln.
They dug their own clay, built kilns and developed their practice. They went on to become world-renowned for their knowledge and skill.
The Alchemists exhibition brings together 10 master woodfirers who came out of this flourishing which includes: Coraki's Bill Brownhill and Bob Connery, Geoff Crispin from the Clarence, Lismore's Tony Nankervis , Suvira McDonald of Goonengerry and the Channon's Dennis Monks, Malina Monk, Kerry Selwood, John Stewart of Clunes) and Geoff Stirling of Lillian Rocks.
The ancient method of woodfiring has been referred to as "painting with fire", which increasingly artists to the qualities firing with wood could bring to their work. They were not so concerned with clean, perfect surfaces, but with marks of heat, ash and the movement of flame.
Woodfiring became an aesthetic and philosophical choice. It matched local ideologies around being off-grid and using materials such as wood, bricks, and clay that could be sourced easily, affordably, and often locally.
The exemplary works in the exhibition have been sourced from the collections of Lismore Regional Gallery, Grafton Regional Gallery, and private collections, including those of the artists themselves.
The Alchemists: North Coast Woodfire Ceramics will run until January 26 at the Lismore Regional Gallery.
For more info head towww.lismoregallery.org