As the smoke rolled down the hill of her beloved valley, Barbara Pritchard thought to herself: I’ve lost everything.
The artist and her husband threw a few belongings in a van and sought refuge in a nearby town. It was the day before New Year’s Eve. The communities huddled around the Upper Murray were under attack.
Pritchard has lived on her off-the-grid property in Walwa, east of Albury-Wodonga, for about 40 years. For most of that time, her art has been preoccupied with the local landscape — the rolling hills and twisted gums.
But after the fire front moved on, Pritchard’s son inspected the property. He was stunned. While a small cottage had burned down with 10 of his mother’s paintings inside, the family home had survived. So, too, had Pritchard’s studio space. Inside was her life’s work.