Fire fuels creativity

This photograph captured by Sue Popowski (pictured below) shows the contrast of white and black in nature following the bushfires of early 2016. The Nelson Bay shack owner will host an artists’ retreat at the property in recognition of the fires.

Experience. Local artists will have Nelson Bay as their backdrop when they meet for a retreat guided by Latrobe’s June Wilson.

The day will be held at Sue and Ashley Popowski’s shack, POP INN, on Saturday September 10 to coincide with Circular Head Council’s ‘Art About Town’ month.

The theme for this year’s art and culture event is ‘Fire’, in recognition of the 2016 bushfires that ravaged the state.

“Our shack along with many others was lucky to survive the fires,” says Sue, thinking back to January 27.

“It was a terrifying experience, huddled on the beach in the early hours of the morning watching the fire as it blazed along the coast. We had to battle smoke and red hot embers.

“The next day was like a moonscape with white ash on the land and the black trunks and stalks of trees and shrubs.

“Even now as you drive to the shack there are signs of recovery but still many places where there is evidence of a huge bushfire.”

Sue says that as an artist she loved the contrast of the white and black.

“Now the rain has come, water lies under the burnt-out land so we have fantastic reflections.”

The shack seemed the most fitting place to host the retreat, where artists can view firsthand the destruction caused by the fire while they work.

“I have previously held a watercolour workshop at the shack and it was a fabulous day,” says Sue.

June, who is an expert in pastels, will start the day with a demonstration and discussion.

After lunch the group will venture outside and there will be time for artists who bring along pieces they are working on to show June and ask her opinion.

The day is free, just bring your own lunch and materials. There will also be materials available for purchase.

The road to POP INN at Nelson Bay is bitumen all the way except for the last kilometre to the sea.

Once numbers are confirmed, carpooling will be organised.

Numbers are filling, to find out more contact Sue Popowski by email at

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