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Local artist brings to life stories from the family tree

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Liz Blizzard: IN HER FOOTSTEPS: Untold stories of long-forgotten women, their journeys and the search for gold is on display until Sunday 6 August 2017 at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

LOCAL artist Liz Blizzard has long had a fascination with stories that have been handed down through her family about her pioneering ancestors, particularly her Irish great-great-grandmother Annie O’Donnell and Annie’s daughter Kate Herry. Undertaking family history research confirmed many of the stories, and added more information including tales of child abuse, insanity and Women’s Suffrage. A suggestion by Liz’s daughter then led to an eight-year project to translate these stories into large paintings, through which Liz reflects on the lives of pioneering women that have been forgotten or ignored.

The result is an extraordinary depiction of the lives of two strong pioneering women told in vibrant, largerthan-life canvases in the exhibition In Her Footsteps, on show at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Gallery Director Gordon Morrison paid tribute to the feat of creative imagination the works represent. “This is work by an artist who has the courage to show the intensely personal stories of the pioneering women in her own family. “Blizzard has taken her interest in family history to reveal some amazing and occasionally harrowing stories in the lives of her female ancestors.

“So often, history is written by the victors, and written by men for men. In this body of work, we see the past examined with imagination and empathy from a very different perspective.” Liz Blizzard studied at Prahran Institute and taught at University of Ballarat. She is fascinated by the diversity, colour and vastness of the Australian landscape and her paintings are an emotional response to it, reflecting its energy and strength. Her work has been exhibited worldwide from Russia, Korea, Japan to Singapore and in Australia. She is excited to have found information on this amazing woman, Kate Herry. “I started doing the research about 8 or 9 years ago, these women, these ancestors, I went to all the places and then my daughter, Tonia, said I should do some paintings about all the information I had found,” Ms Blizzard said. “This exhibition is dedicated to my family, and all the forgotten pioneering women of Australia.”