By Michael Doran
‘Marysville 10 Years On’ is a photographic exhibition at the Marysville Information and Regional Artspace, MiRa, mounted as part of the town’s Black Saturday 10-year anniversary.
The exhibition has been curated by Ali Griffin, Arts Co-Ordinator at the centre, who said the project started with ads in the local newsletter calling for photos that represent Marysville 10 years on. “We received photos from professional photographers, people in the media and from others who have documented the whole journey along the way.
“The brief for the project was it had to be a positive thing, it’s saying a big thank-you to everyone who helped us when we needed it and for them to see how good we are now. We didn’t want pictures of burnt stuff, that was ten years ago and we are not that burnt place anymore.
“If people can come in here and have a look at how far we have come then the exhibition has done its job. This is Marysville, it’s not old or new, it’s just Marysville today.”
The 47 photos by 14 locals are curated into five themes of Rebuilding, Events, Community, Regeneration and Openings, showcasing the elements of the town’s journey. “We have tried to put what everybody submitted into the accompanying book or in the exhibition,” she said.
“This is not just about Marysville, it’s for the whole Triangle area and we wanted it to speak for all of its people. Ten years is a marker in time and it’s a marker I feel most people are happy to see come and go.
“People are doing incredibly well here because they are really passionate about the area. And that’s not just for the 10 year anniversary, there are so many things happening in the area, the Australia Day parade, the marathon, a fun run, the jazz and blues festival and the Marysville Art Show.
“For a town the size of Marysville it’s astounding, it comes back to the fact they are incredibly passionate about their town, they don’t want it to die. They want people to come in, they want people to spend money to make it a profitable town for people to open businesses in, so that they can stay here and enjoy living here.
“And I think they were like that before the fires as well because it’s such a small town, if you don’t get involved then what have you got?”
Marysville has always had a strong creative side and the opening of the Community Space at MiRa had given the town a permanent place for the community to join together in many types of artistic pursuits.
“The thing living up here, and more importantly into the future, is not so much about Marysville becoming an arts town but that a lot of the recovery process has been driven here at MiRa. All sorts of community workshops have been held since the day after the fires where the creative people in the town wanted to get together and make it beautiful again.
“And so they got people involved and that created a community who had ownership over the town because they went out and made mosaic seats or tiles for the playground. It was done to a level where anyone could join in and be involved and that took time and creativity and got people together again.
“So that’s why MiRa is here because the artists, the creative people wanted a space because at the time they were doing art from the back of their car, from a container, from outside in a paddock as they didn’t have anywhere else to do it from. It’s taken probably the last eight years putting this plan in process for this community space to make it happen.
Ali Griffin, who lost her own house on Black Saturday, said she knew meeting the brief would be a challenge but is happy with the result.
“I didn’t want to upset anyone, especially at this very sensitive time. I guess there are going to be some people who don’t feel as recovered as some others but overwhelmingly the people I have spoken to are all about the anniversary as being a time to say thank you to everyone who helped us when we needed it.”