THE bushfire that devastated Margaret River last year became firmly entrenched in the mind of Joan Tuffin as she stared out over the charred remains of her Margaret River property.
So much so that she felt compelled to capture it in patchwork.
“It’s a journey I had to take. The shock and devastation made me feel compelled to do it,” the local patchwork artist explained.
Though their house was spared, the surrounds were not and she was able to absorb the charred remains from the second-floor balcony of the house that husband Tom, she and the children had built themselves.
When the fire swept through their area they had no idea if the home was still standing, but as they drove to the entrance of their property they did not believe it had been spared because of the burnt landscape.
Incredibly it was unscathed.
That was surprise number one.
Surprise number two came when she returned from Japan just over a week ago, as part of the Sugito sister-city visit, to learn that her patchwork of the fire had won not only the section she had entered but also the special-theme competition, ‘Southwest Patch’.
The win was timely, as this Friday marks the first anniversary of the bushfire and follows the announcement last week of the State Government’s increased compensation for victims.
“The work depicts the scene of our property when I first saw it after the fire,” Joan said.
“Others fared much worse than us, but it was still a shock to see the outcome of the fire.
“It’s something I needed to do. I spent months thinking about it before I eventually decided to tackle it.
“I usually don’t design my original pieces completely at the outset, starting only with a simple outline – inspiration flows as the piece develops.”
The words that accompanied her show entry aptly summed up the tragedy.
“Devastation: The ever present threat of wildfire became a reality on November 23, 2011 when ‘our patch’ of country ignited into a conflagration of immense size and intensity, causing destruction, chaos and devastation.”
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