Portraits captured in aftermath of Lismore floods exhibited at Parliament

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A selection of powerful portraits exploring the aftermath of the Lismore floods is currently on display at NSW's Parliament. 

Described as a "love letter to Lismore and its resilient spirit", the exhibition features 100 portraits captured in homes across the city following the February 2022 flooding.

The exhibition is the brainchild of photographer Jacklyn Wagner.

Simon Robinson lost 95 per cent of his fine art and vintage wares in the flood. Image: Jacklyn Wagner

"Walking and driving around the streets [following the flood]… there was an adrenalin-like energy; hundreds of people were helping each other in countless ways," recalls Wagner.

"A fortnight later, I woke up one morning and knew exactly what I needed to do. I would document the actuality of residents in their ruined surroundings, if they would let me, exactly as I found them.

Tim Carlyle and Rockii. Image: Jacklyn Wagner.

I would simply ask them - people who had lost everything or saved something; people who now needed to start reclaiming their homes and lives - if I may take a picture of them. No lights, no paraphernalia - just a picture."

Wagner knocked on the doors of about 100 people, promising them trust in exchange for a photo. 

Vicki and Mark Youngberry. Image: Jacklyn Wagner.

Speaking to the ABC, State Member for Lismore and fellow flood survivor Janelle Saffin said Wagner's gentle approach was just what was needed.

"Through her lens, we see what I call the carnage, but we also see the hope, and that's really important because that's what we all hang on to," Saffin said.

Debbie and Des Sheridan. Image: Jacklyn Wagner.

The exhibition runs on weekdays at NSW Parliament House, 9am-5pm, until Thursday 25 May 2023.

You can also explore the exhibition virtually via the NSW Parliament website here. 

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