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Albany artist explores regeneration after Stirling Range bushfire in exhibition at Vancouver Arts Centre

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Margaret Sanders at her exhibition Aftermath on display at the Vancouver Arts Centre.
Camera IconMargaret Sanders at her exhibition Aftermath on display at the Vancouver Arts Centre. Credit: Laurie Benson

A new exhibition by an Albany artist explores the regeneration of the Stirling Range after fire swept through the national park.

Margaret Sanders’ exhibition Aftermath comprises a series of acrylic paintings that were inspired by her visit to part of the Stirling Range that was scorched in a massive bushfire in late 2019.

Sanders said when she first visited the site in February 2020 she saw “complete devastation”.

“I took it upon myself over the next few years then to revisit that place to see how the regeneration had staged over that time.

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Margaret Sanderson's Aftermath.
Camera IconMargaret Sanderson's Aftermath. Credit: Laurie Benson

“When I popped back in I could see the plants re-sprouting and flowering, and just slowly over that time, things were popping up so it inspired my artwork, to think about what that meant.”

During COVID isolation later that year, Sanders switched to painting as her primary art form instead of her usual medium of print making.

“In COVID lockdown I had a bit of a time to, I guess, review my life as an artist and I thought ‘well, what about taking up painting?’.”

“So I set myself the task of rediscovering my painting skills. And then I remembered that I’d walked into this fire ground area, and I thought that’s really a challenge to try and represent that.”

Margaret Sanderson's Aftermath 6, three part painting.
Camera IconMargaret Sanderson's Aftermath 6, three part painting. Credit: Laurie Benson

The result is Sanders’ first solo exhibition, which features an installation of a big burnt tree branch with a series of paintings depicting the regenerated fire grounds surrounding it.

She said the branch served as the starting point to view the exhibition through.

“It is burnt, but if you look at it, it is reaching down to the ground, which is a sign of regeneration,” she said.

“So it’s almost like a lens that you see the artwork through.”

Aftermath is on show at the Vancouver Arts Centre until September 22.

Margaret Sanderson's Aftermath 8 and 9.
Camera IconMargaret Sanderson's Aftermath 8 and 9. Credit: Laurie Benson
Margaret Sanderson's Aftermath 2, Fire Flowering 1.
Camera IconMargaret Sanderson's Aftermath 2, Fire Flowering 1. Credit: Laurie Benson
Margaret Sanderson's Aftermath 4, Fire Flowering 3.
Camera IconMargaret Sanderson's Aftermath 4, Fire Flowering 3. Credit: Laurie Benson

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