Vase that survived Cobargo bushfire at potter's studio accepted into National Museum

UNIQUE ART: Daniel Lafferty holds the vase that survived the New Year's Eve bushfire and will be going to the National Museum of Australia. Picture: Albert McKnight
UNIQUE ART: Daniel Lafferty holds the vase that survived the New Year's Eve bushfire and will be going to the National Museum of Australia. Picture: Albert McKnight

When the New Year's Eve bushfire tore through the the NSW South Coast it destroyed Daniel Lafferty's pottery studio and came within metres of his house.

Later, when looking through about $10,000 worth of pottery lost in the blaze at his studio where he estimated the temperature would have hit 1200 degrees Celsius, he found a vase that was still mostly intact, but had remnants of the fire like ash and glass from the building stuck to it.

This vase has now been donated to and accepted into the historical collection at the National Museum of Australia for an exhibition on the 2019/20 bushfires.

The remains of the Bandicoot Pottery studio after the bushfire.

The remains of the Bandicoot Pottery studio after the bushfire.

"It's just something of interest," Mr Lafferty, of Bandicoot Pottery in the Cobargo region, said.

"It's good to document what you've done in the past."

He said he woke up early on New Year's Eve and saw the bushfire on a nearby ridge, then for about five hours he, his family and several of his son's friends fought to save their home as flames surrounded it.

The vase that has been donated to the National Museum, pictured both before (left) and after the New Year's Eve bushfire.

The vase that has been donated to the National Museum, pictured both before (left) and after the New Year's Eve bushfire.

"It really burnt when it came, it made lightning and thunder and everything like that," Mr Lafferty said.

"I know someone that was nearby looked over here [at my house] and thought 'Daniel's gone'."

Before the fire arrived he went to the studio he had built about 30 years ago and tried to prepare it, but "from the house you could see it all burning".

"Because we've still got our house and a lot of people have a lot less, we think we're okay," he said.

Incredibly, these pots survived the bushfire that destroyed the Bandicoot Pottery studio by sitting where they are in this picture, on the tree stumps.

Incredibly, these pots survived the bushfire that destroyed the Bandicoot Pottery studio by sitting where they are in this picture, on the tree stumps.

The kiln furniture and shelving survived and he plans to build a shed to use as a studio so he can work again, but so much pottery was destroyed they have resurfaced the road to the kiln in pottery.

On Thursday, senior curator at the National Museum Libby Stewart visited Mr Lafferty at the site of his studio to collect the vase.

"The significance of this story is the impact of the fires on the arts community in general," she said.

"It's a good example of someone working for a living from his craft, but it's been obliterated."

Libby Stewart visits Daniel Lafferty at the site of his studio on Thursday to collect the vase.

Libby Stewart visits Daniel Lafferty at the site of his studio on Thursday to collect the vase.

She said the collection also had another item from Cobargo, the public phone booth from the town that melted in the blaze, and the exhibition called Rupture and Resilience is expected to open mid-2021.

Mr Lafferty said he hoped a builder would start the construction of the shed for his new studio later this month, "then I'm hoping to get back to it".

This story Vase that survived bushfire at potter's studio accepted into National Museum first appeared on Bega District News.