• Tony Bosworth

Through the Smoke, Through our Eyes – Botanic Garden staff tell their bushfire stories

Thankfully, no lives were lost when fire swept through the much-loved Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah over the 2019-20 fire season, but much was lost, and a new art exhibition called Through the Smoke, Through our Eyes tells the graphic story of how the staff fought hard to save the iconic gardens.

Curated by the Botanic Garden team, the exhibition will showcase 27 pieces of artwork that tell the stories and experiences of the staff who helped defend the Garden from the 2019 Mt Wilson back-burn that got out of control and devastated the area.

Of the thousands of hectares burnt, the world-famous cool-climate Garden lost portions of the unique Living Collection and most of the surrounding conservation area.

The artworks have been developed by the Mt Tomah staff and reflect their efforts defending and restoring one of the world’s most precious cool climate plant collections.

On display at the Visitor Centre from March 4, the artworks will range from photography, through to sculpture and poetry.

Learn how Chief Botanist Dr. Brett Summerell, his team of researchers, and the Garden's horticulturists have been monitoring the impacts from the bushfires and see how Australian plants have adapted to cope with fire.

“This exhibition provides a moment of reflection for the Mount Tomah team who are not only part of the local community that was hit by Australia’s largest forest fire, but also fiercely passionate people who have dedicated their lives to protect our natural environment and the Gardens’ regrowth," said Denise Ora, Chief Executive of the Botanic Gardens Greater Sydney.

“I’m extremely grateful to the emergency service personnel, volunteers, local community and staff who risked so much to deal with the bushfires and I’m looking forward to learning about their personal journey and celebrating their courage,” said Ms Ora.

The display is from March 4 to April 27. Entry is free.

Main pic: Exhibition Curator Manager Greg Bourke

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