Bruno’s Sculpture Garden, within walking distance of the coffee shop in Marysville, is a haven of green tranquillity, and showcases over a hundred sculptures.
During my visit to the garden, I kept wondering, “What were you thinking?” I thought that about arsonists around the country who start murderous fires without thought of those who will lose their property, their animals and perhaps their lives.
I also thought it of Bruno himself. While many of his sculptures are evidently taken from real life (maybe his own family), others are the most amazing creations, drawn perhaps from stories heard during a childhood spent in South America. It also reflects passionate hard work and a remarkably creative mind.
I wondered how this little fellow below burst into life, and what did that silver object on the turtle’s head use to be?
How does someone see that a spiral plate would fit so neatly over a statue’s head?
Any reports about Bruno’s Garden always start with his gratitude that he and his family, unlike many of their neighbours, survived the fires. It took several months to get back into the area to rebuild, as the police closed the town so that they could hunt thoroughly for the remains of people who did not get out in time.
Bruno himself barely got out. In the late afternoon of Saturday 7 February, the wind died down and it seemed that Maryville would be spared, but within minutes the wind came up the valley from a different direction, bringing 100 m high flames with it. Bruno, with a few other townsfolk, spent the night across the road on the cricket oval (thank goodness it was there!) watching his house and gallery burn down, with collapsing trees decimating his sculpture garden.
By some miracle, about half the statues survived the falling burning trees, sometimes by a whisker.
The rebuilding work must have been immense, but to a new visitor, the garden appears as magical as it probably was before the fire.
After the fire, nothing green was left. Ferns, azaleas and bulbs grew back quite quickly, but the bulk of the garden was replanted. Visitors are invited to join in with weeding if they feel like it.
The statues range from realistic to mythical to even a little disturbing at times, and it was fun to discover them on the paving, the twisting paths or in the little streams.
When we walked in, it was very quiet but someone was moving the sprinklers. It was Bruno himself, and he agreed to let me take a photo of him working on his latest statue.
The anniversary of Black Saturday 2009 is tomorrow, 7 February. This afternoon it was announced that the Marysville victims will share a $300 million settlment from AusNet, a power company whose faulty power conductor is presumed to have started the fire in that area. The lead plantiff says it helps to know that this fire was not set deliberately.
The news last night reported, however, that already over 140 suspicious fires have been set in the state of Victoria since December, ie 3 fires per day. Yes, what ARE these fire-bugs thinking? Do they have $300 million?
For more information on Bruno’s Garden, see http://www.brunosart.com/