TASMANIAN GOTHIC - artwork by Elizabeth Barsham


These are the artworks I have created for the annual Weld Echo Exhibition.

The Weld Valley, located in the Southern Forests 50km south west of Hobart, remains one of the most diverse and least exploited native environments in Southern Tasmania. Its towering forests, deep gorges, mountains, gushing rivers and wide plains represent one of the finest examples of pristine ecology in the state. While the Lower Weld has been consistently recognised as of World Heritage Value, it remains unprotected and open to industrial forestry and mining operations. A community campaign has been highlighting both the beauty and destruction of these forests for almost a decade.

My grandfather was a founding member of the Forestry Department. He undertook the first comprehensive forest survey in the Weld Valley, and his working life was devoted to forestry. He loved the bush, he loved nature, and he believed in sustainable exploitation of forest resources. I have to admit he was responsible for a lot of pine plantations, but the idea of clear-felling old-growth forest for woodchip or pulp and in the process destroying every other living thing in the area would have appalled him. He's the chap second from the right in Man from the City, based on an old family photograph taken about 1905.

Artists creating greater awareness of environmental destruction in the Weld Valley

Over the years, annual Weld Echo exhibitions have involved more than 150 artists, both emerging and well established, with thousands of viewers passing through the gallery. Each year artists in all mediums contribute to the exhibition: painters, photographers, sculptors, woodworkers, textile artists, film makers, etc. with all the artwork inspired by the Weld Valley and/or the campaign to protect it.

Weld Echo is coordinated by the Black Sassy Collective, the artistic arm of the Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC). The collective is volunteer run, not-for-profit, community based and focuses on producing art exhibitions that provide local and grassroots artists with the opportunity to gain exposure.

I was born in Tasmania and many of my ancestors worked on the land. They cleared forests, established farms and raised families. They led a harsh and isolated existence, using what they had; destroying what they had to. They survived.

I am grateful for their hard work, strength and determination and I am proud of their achievements. We owe them a great deal. But times have changed. We can choose how we want to live our lives; we don't have to destroy any more of Tasmania's natural environment to survive.

So why do we keep on doing it?

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