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  • Your Hunter Valley Magazine

ETHEREAL IMAGES Emerge from Ashes

Here’s something you probably haven’t seen before! When you visit Morpeth Gallery over the weekend of 14 and 15 March you can experience ‘Fire-Painting’, when artist Maegan Oberhardt from Victoria will demonstrate this unique method of art known as fumage, which was created by cavemen and has since been used by Salvador Dali.

The artist uses candles, wood and a blow torch, dancing the flames across a drawing to put carbon soot onto the image. Then, the artist uses various instruments, brushes, stones, knives and steel objects to remove parts of the carbon. Eventually, a portrait emerges from the carbon footprint left behind from the flame.

The originals are always mounted under glass with matting as a safety margin. The delicate and lengthy process of painting with fire results in unique artworks that feature birds, animals and insects such as butterflies.

The dark images are created from swirls of black and grey soot. It’s truly fascinating to watch as Maegan holds a flame close to the image that she has drawn on her thick artist paper – and lets the fire blacken patterns onto the surface. She then adds in extra details using a paintbrush to create the intricate portraits.

“The soot lays on the surface of the thick paper. It is very fragile at that point in the process - so fragile that an insect could walk on the surface and it would leave their trace. I can then scratch the surface by just touching it with various types of tools. I like using real feathers to draw feathers when I am working on a bird,” said Maegan.

Maegan says that the process is only as dangerous as having a candle-lit dinner: “For me, spontaneity and chance are what make my creative process effective," she added.

There is something almost otherworldly about Maegan’s Fire Art – check out her YouTube video to get an idea of the process and watch her at work with fire and soot. Then visit the gallery to see her artworks displayed on the Morpeth Gallery Walls (her works will also be for sale). Maegan will be in residence at Morpeth Gallery, 10am until 5pm on March 14 and 15. Entry is Free.

You can find Morpeth Gallery at 175 Swan St, Morpeth. The gallery is open from 10am until 5pm, Thursdays through to Sundays and has free entry.

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