by Amy Martin. The Canberra Times.
Picture: Mitchell Garfath
When Belle Hogg thinks of what Australia means to her, the poem which comes to mind is My Country by Dorothea Mackellar.
As a child, she would go to work with her dad during the school holidays and he would get her to recite it during the drive until phrases such as "I love a sunburnt country" and "The wide brown land for me" became synonymous with the country she called home.
When Sophie Kristine thinks of Australia - particularly in the light of the bushfires which have recently consumed it - she thinks of the distinctive flora and fauna, particularly her favourite animal the wombat.
It was those thoughts which inspired the two Canberra artists - of Belle Photography and Oh Little Spark, respectively - when creating colouring pages for This Is Australia.
A project started by Brisbane artist Kasey Rainbow, the colouring book features 100 artworks from 100 artists, with 100 per cent of the proceeds donated to different wildlife charities tending to the animals which were affected by the bushfires.
"I have been following her for a while and I own some of her products because everything she does is just fun," Kristine says.
"She'd actually done a couple of fundraisers already - she'd done a fundraising tote bag, she'd done a collaboration and a print, and she then she said 'I had this idea to make a colouring book but to get everyone involved I'm going to do a call out. Any Australian artists who want to join me, send your page in'."
Hogg and Kristine are two of at least four Canberra artists which took part in the colouring book, along with Cheryl Hodges and Kate Grlec.
The artists have found that the colouring book has been a good way to not only fundraise after the bushfires but also as a way to help process what has happened.
"I had only just said to my kids 'What can I do'? Especially as a creative person, how can I use my talent for good?" Hogg says.
"And this just popped up and I was like, 'great'. It's now at $9500, which tells me that 950 people have purchased it.
"I saw at that time that a lot of other good things were happening for people so as soon as I saw the animals' lens - every time I see those animal images of things going on in the fires I was just heartbroken. So this was perfect.
"The satisfaction I had when I sent the email off with my submission, was just 'wow'. I'm a part of something that may make some money to help these animals and it just felt so good."
The overall project features 100 pieces of art which are all completely different, despite all having the brief of Australia wildlife affected by the bushfires. Some feature words such as "hope" and "love", while others depict images of the firefighters which fought the fire.