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.

Walwa artist Barbara Pritchard with artwork from an earlier exhibition, Great River Road Obsession.

Walwa artist Barbara Pritchard with artwork from an earlier exhibition, Great River Road Obsession.Credit:T Hunt

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.



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