Massimiliano Guerrisi will never forget the sight of his Bega Valley home being devoured during the Black Summer bushfires.
‘I was escaping on my little tractor from the flames that the wind was pushing down the road,’ the sculptor says.
‘The home I built, the workshop and greenhouse, the gardens and hundreds of trees that I planted and nourished…
‘I knew that, if I survived, my life would never be the same’.
In the weeks following, as the shock gave way to deep sadness, Mr Guerrisi knew that for his own transformation and regrowth, he needed to head north, at least for a while.
Soon after, he arrived in the Byron Shire, which had just turned green following desperately needed rains.
As the water flowed, so did Guerrisi’s creativity.
He bought the basic tools, some camphor laurel slabs, and – tucked away in a little ex Alpaca shed – started to ‘carve and carve and carve’.
It was from this outpouring that his new exhibition, The Light Within, eventually grew – a series of sculptures made from charred wood, crystals and LED lights to symbolise the process of fire revealing the treasures within.
‘That destructive fire became The Revealler,’ he says.
‘It took all those old attachment paradigms I was running with my entire life.
‘I could really investigates for the first time in ages where I was at at that precise moment… and the wooden sculptures appeared to me as a medium to transmit and inspire higher feelings to people’.
The door was open, and soon after, Grant Rasheed from Ninbella Gallery in Bangalow invited him to exhibit his work.
‘It was such an incredible feeling to see my work amongst other amazing art in maybe the best gallery of the Northern Rivers so early in my new journey’, Guerrisi says.
‘It’s amazing how our whole way of being, something we consider so solid, can be completely uprooted, opening the space perfectly for a new chapter.’
The Light Within runs at Ninbella Gallery, located at 19A Byron St, Bangalow, until February 14.