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Stories of Giants 


Taken from YRC Events page:


Olinda-based artist Emma Jennings’ Stories of Giants honours the humble yet extraordinary people who supported the Dandenong Ranges community in the wake of an unprecedented storm event on 9 June 2021. Three years after the disaster, Jennings’ portraits and ongoing creative recovery work embrace art and creativity to process the experience and support her community to move from survival to meaning-making, healing and recovery. 

Jennings developed Stories of Giants as a creative recovery project in the weeks and months after the storm devastated the Mountain Ash forests she calls home. With more than 25,000 trees lost, 177 homes damaged and 79 properties destroyed, many families are still displaced, while residents and first responders continue to process the trauma and ongoing impacts of this event. Jennings felt a strong urge to help her community. After working in the relief centre in Olinda, she opened her studio for a series of healing, creative workshops. A community renowned for its artistic calibre, these workshops offered people the chance to transform shock, grief and loss into meaning, hope and renewal by building community connections. 

The resulting exhibition brings together community members’ creative responses with Emma Jennings’ painted portraits to pay homage to the fallen forest. Jennings’ detailed portraits of residents and volunteers, created on salvaged lengths of timber from trees that fell in the storm, are layered with botanical studies and patterns found across the forest floor. Evocative of the once tall forest giants, these paintings embody both the landscape that was and the regenerative growth slowly healing the land and people, by honouring those who worked tirelessly to support their community and loved ones in the wake of disaster.  

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