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Mid Stories Exhibition to open in Batlow, Snowy Valleys

Mid Stories is a multi-artform exhibition by Vanessa Keenan and Nat Ord exploring the natural forest regeneration following the Black Summer fires in the Snowy Valleys and Upper Murray region. The works dissect and interpret the destruction, regeneration and alternate landscapes through various artforms including photography, video, solargraphy, augmented reality and installation.

The exhibition reveals just some of the stories currently unfolding as the landscape and community heal. Using data and extensive field visits, the artists present these stories whilst the midstory dominates the surrounding forests; sentinels on guard whilst the canopy prepares to return.

Both Vanessa Keenan and Nat Ord have lived experience with bushfires. Along with her family, Vanessa sheltered in a bunker in the Maragle Valley for three hours during the Dunn’s Road Fire on New Year’s Eve 2019 with her experience covered by international media. Along with post graduate qualifications in natural resource management, Nat worked as a professional Forest Firefighter in the early 2000’s and battled the 2003 fires that engulfed the region.

On the first anniversary of the fires, Vanessa curated Arbour Festival which was a creative recovery project that ran over 50 days, the same length of time that the fire burned. “This exhibition is the next step in my three years of examining the impacts of the fires on our landscape and communities through an artistic lens. As anyone impacted by the fires knows, the experience doesn’t ever leave you but rather shape you into the future.” Vanessa said.

Nat added “Being able to bring my experience as an ecologist and artist together, observing the power of both ecological and social recovery is a privilege. It never ceases to surprise me how resilient the environment and communities are, despite such adversity.”

Mid Stories doesn’t end at the close of the exhibition in Batlow with the work ongoing and a larger exhibition is scheduled for exhibition at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery in September.

Mid Stories is on exhibition at b:Atelier, 14-16 Pioneer Street, Batlow NSW from 4-26 March. B:Atelier is open 11am – 3pm weekends.

This project is supported by the Country Arts Support Program, administered by Eastern Riverina Arts on behalf of the NSW Government.

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