It's not every day you find out your painting has been gifted from the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese to the 46th President of the United States of America.
On Wednesday evening, as climate artist Katherine Boland sat on her woven grey linen couch in her one bedroom apartment in Merimbula, the night began like any other - until her sister and "artistic director", Llysse called from Melbourne.
She had just finished dinner (chicken on a bed of avocado on wholemeal toast) and was watching television to unwind from the day, when Llysse rang to tell her to find the remote and change to Channel Seven, because her painting was on the news.
"I had no idea, so I quickly got online and checked it out, and yes, it was there," Katherine said, still surprised, her day fuelled by yet another green tea as she received messages of support from friends.
"I was happily just minding my own business, and then I find out the leader of the free world has, you know, been gifted one of my paintings."
Katherine said the painting, Fire Flower No 8, was created as part of a series in response to the Tathra fire in 2018 which destroyed 65 homes and buildings, damaged a further 39, and destroyed 70 caravans/cabins.
"I paint with fire, so I wanted to create something using fire itself, and it's a series of abstract and flower imagery which is painted on timber, so I burn the timber with a blow torch," Katherine said, she also used pyrographic pens, chisels, and sanders.
"Canvas is a bit floppy so you can't really burn canvas or do very much to it," she said with a laugh, "Timber is such a hard surface, so you can attack it."
The flowers are set on a black background representing the blackened bush while the flowers represent the resilience of nature after the bushfires.
After the 2019/20 bushfires, Katherine was invited to participate in a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-funded project, where 10 artists from California and the south-east coast of Australia were funded to create artwork based on bushfire experiences.
"[The fires were] such a horrendous time, I just felt I had to do something," she said.
Sustainability had been part of Katherine's life for decades, and in 1979 before moving to Merimbula, Katherine and her then partner moved to a property in Brogo, just north of Bega.
They were some of the first settlers on Warrigal Range Road, milking goats, spinning wool to weave clothing, grinding wheat for bread, and living in a mud hut.
The 66-year-old artists is represented by Manyung Gallery Group in Melbourne, which handled the negotiations for what is now the presidential artwork.
"It was going off, and I looked on the app and I could see seven people from Canberra were on their desktops."
The app provides where a viewer was based, the page they were accessing and how long they were viewing for, and Katherine concluded the people may be a school classroom studying her.
"I had no idea it could be a bunch of bureaucrats in Parliament House sitting around doing their homework on me to see if there were any skeletons in my cupboard and if I were an appropriate person to gift an artwork to the President of the United States.
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