The thing that shocked me to tears and launched me into action, was to hear that Marysville was obliterated last Saturday night – 7th February 2009 – Black Saturday.
It shocked my whole family
But what about Bruno & his ART gallery?
Exactly 3 weeks earlier at the same time of day as Marysville being wiped off the face of the earth I had dragged my kids away from their DVDs & PC’s & preference for sleeping the day away …. and we as a family had travelled through this now fire ravaged valley. Even though we were late and it was close to 3pm, I insisted on making a detour to Marysville in order to scoff down some sort of food [pretending to be lunch], keen to take everyone to see the highly acclaimed art of the stunning artist Bruno Torf.
To our privilege Bruno was actually in residence and greeted us! But to our chagrin his aim was to stop Lauren and I from dropping crumbs from our remaining lunch rolls in his studio. (I was so ashamed but as per usual I was the last to eat and it was the only food I had had all day. I was close to feinting!) But he was happy to see the kids take such an eager fascination with his work. So our rolls neatly bagged for later, we were allowed to pass into his sacred world!
To walk into Bruno’s studio was to walk into a fairytale book; sometimes an Enid Blyton magic faraway style, sometimes Rudyard Kipling’s Native fascination, but more Lemony Snickett meets mythology! I couldn’t count the amount of pieces displayed, walls full of them! No empty corners, no wasted wall space; paintings sketches sculptures and what some would consider only worthy of roadside junk turned into amazing art!
There were gorgeous classical art; landscapes, portraits, still-lifes, but then you also feel compelled to look everywhere at once as between them were stunning pieces inviting you to open doors or pull leavers or miniatures requiring you utilize the conveniently provided magnifying glass … to be found two art pieces down!
There were pieces large enough to dwarf you and small enough to make you gigantic! Eyes followed you with the eeriness that can only come from a master artist and portraits seemed to have real hair and protruding noses …. No wait – they did have real hair and protruding noses!
You don’t want to leave! You could spend hours just looking at it all and finding more and more you hadn’t seen at first. Yet you know there is just more beckoning you to run and find it. And so trundling down steps beneath the biggest portrait’s protruding nose and towards the rear of the house you leave the gallery.
Holding your breath and hoping not to touch anything, you walk through the hallowed of all rooms, his actual studio; where a painting is started here and a sculpture there. It looked like organized chaos as is the environment of any artist and he would know exactly where every thing was within it. Down the rickety back steps you are then out into the truly wonderful world of his art.
His property garden was dedicated to art – to sculptures of imagination from myth and magic; pixies and fairies and gnomes and other creatures of all manor of tale. Paths took you meandering through thick shrubbery over creeks and under tunnels and almost around every corner there was an image brought to life as part of the bush. You eventually started seeing things in the gnarled trees & mossy rocks that weren’t there and, disbelieving your eyes, you could almost miss things that were there.
He blended his sculpture into the stumps and rocks of his land old men and birds coming out of a broken branch, panthers and lizards sunning themselves on rocks, in the small trickles there was the strangest but expected sights; mermaids, fish, … a scuba diver surfacing!
Even the birds loved his artistic abode with many in the tall Mountain Ash trees sheltering it and others flitting about in the smaller bushes. You could sit amongst the art and watch the beauty live around you, the sunlight dancing through the foliage golden from the west, feel the breeze stirring your hair as it brought the mountain scents of eucalyptus, wild flower and freshness, amongst the chattering of the birds were the string section of insects and then the gurgling of the water flowing about you hidden by ferns as it made it’s way down the gentle slope to the Steavenson River
Leaving this property was hard. Just as well the paths meandered back up to the gallery house.
I couldn’t see them all !!!!
I promised myself to bring my mother and we promised ourselves to return soon………
This weekend was to be our next trip up – but there is nothing there to see now but the evidence of obliteration.
We wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it any way!
So for the past week I have held my breath waiting hoping like everyone else. Though I had no intimate right, I wanted news of Bruno and his family and his gallery. It was painful to me not to know.
Finally, whilst scoffing down a quick lunch at Maccas & reading the Herald Sun [Friday 13th – day 7 of the disaster], I found a wonderful article covering most of the page and I gasped and covered my mouth and burst into tears of relief
The lady over the way who heard me burst into tears also because she thought I had found news of a lost friend. She knew it had to be about the fires. I ended up consoling her lol
Alive and well … Bruno Torf with his family. ( Don’t they look happy to be alive! )
The day Bruno cheated death
By Natalie Tkaczuk Sikora – February 13, 2009 12:00am
MARYSVILLE inferno survivor Bruno Torf huddled in his car with his Jack Russell ‘Itchy’ in the middle of the cricket oval, watching in disbelief as the town came crashing down around him, building by building.
He had narrowly escaped the roaring flames licking the back door of his gallery – Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden – which was engulfed as he fled with a handful of precious pieces.
The unforgiving attack not only destroyed the once luscious piece of paradise regarded as a tourist mecca but ripped through the heart of the town and its people, leaving a wake of devastation right before his eyes.
“It came so suddenly, without warning and from all angles,” said Mr Torf, 53, whose wife Marlene and daughters Iris and Klaartje were safe in Melbourne.
“It came right into the valley, roaring like a train going 100km/h. The heat was so intense. My friend Simone Ray said, ‘Run to the oval, it’s the place we’re supposed to gather’. There were only 18 of us that made it.
“I could see the community building, Maryland resort and the Blackwood cottages crumble one by one.”
Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden, which took 13 years to create and featured hundreds of artworks and life-size terracotta sculptures, also disappeared. It attracted thousands of visitors each year who marvelled at its magical rainforest setting.
Seeking refuge at his daughter’s Frankston flat, Mr Torf and his family are counting their blessings that they are alive. “It’s incredible, the longer we hear about it the luckier we feel,” Iris, 27, said.
Mr Torf estimates that his life-long art collection has mostly gone but hopes some of the baked terracotta sculptures survived. Either way Mr Torf is not dwelling on what he lost, but will focus on a new beginning.
He has vowed to return as soon as possible to start rebuilding the town.
“We really want to focus on bringing life back to Marysville,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful spot. As long as the river flows and the green comes back people will return. We want to bring the people back.”
Yes Bruno – If you will build it we will come!
How can we help?
Bruno has his website changed to tell us in his words what has happened and what we can do to help
please look at THIS and see the hope he is generating!
Thank you Bruno we will not forget! ♥
I had to write this
It is an obituary of his old gallery that I and my family fell in love with along with millions of others and that was obliterated in the Black Sat fires.
He will create an art studio / gallery / sculpture garden again
It will not be the same as before, the hundred year old house has gone but the bush will regrow and he will set his art amongst it.
and we will come and experience it again!