Exhibition captures heart of flood experience

Gunnedah Shire Council

The floods of 2021-2022 left behind scars in Gunnedah Shire and beyond - and lasting memories that are now the basis for an exhibition that will open on Friday, March 15 in Gunnedah.

The Arts North West exhibition To My Returning is a creative response by local artists from flood-affected communities.

It includes heart-felt letters written to the river by people across the region who were impacted by the repeated floods - those who were displaced, isolated or watched the water rise with disbelief.

"As the peak arts organisation for the New England North West, Arts North West knew that a creative response to life-changing events can be cathartic and assist with the process of recovery," Arts North West Executive Director Lauren Mackley said.

"We knew that a creative project was needed to help our communities to explore their regional identities and how they are sculpted by our natural environment, increase resilience and provide space and opportunities for community to gather, reflect and connect post flood events."

Arts North West also engaged artists from flood-affected communities to create artwork from their own experience and in response to the communities' letters.

To My Returning features letters from numerous Gunnedah Shire residents, and work from artists across the region, including Gunnedah's Maree Kelly, Jade Punch and Helen Stanley, photographs by Christiane Birkett, Alyssa Barwick and Marie Low, who also has a creative writing piece.

Gunnedah Shire Council Manager Economy and Growth Susan Frater said To My Returning was an important exhibition that explored a critical time in Gunnedah Shire's history.

"Not only is To My Returning a significant exhibition in its own right, it shows the heart of our community, and our ability to recover," Ms Frater said.

"Anyone who wants to understand what the floods meant to Gunnedah Shire needs to visit this exhibition."

An open gallery night will be held on Thursday, March 28 during the exhibition to allow people to bring a picnic and either engage in a provided themed activity or bring their own project along to work on in the gallery.

To My Returning is a touring exhibition that will open at the Gunnedah Bicentennial Creative Arts Centre on Friday, March 15 and continue until Friday, April 26. It has been on display at the Bank Art Museum in Moree, and will go to the Wee Waa Arts and Cultural Centre after Gunnedah.

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