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Award-winning poet Geoff Page is the star attraction at Grafton library’s festival event, Watershed: Poetry and Images of the Clarence, on Wednesday October 16. Images: contributed

How to have a festival, island style

Geoff Helisma|

First, take some islands, 53 seems like a good number, then invite people to participate with their own island-themed events within a set timeframe, add some geographical boundaries (like a river, for instance) and … viola! The 53 Islands festival is born.

This Sunday October 13 at 5pm the Grafton Camera Club takes centre stage at the official opening of its ‘From the Mountains to the Sea: 53 islands?’ photographic exhibition (till November 30).

And, coincidentally (or not) it’s being held at the Harwood Hotel, which is located on, of course, an island.

The club’s president, Michelle Thornton, said being involved in the festival was an “exciting” opportunity.

“When we first heard about the festival early this year, we jumped in and started planning our exhibition,” she said.

“We wanted to try and capture life on the whole river in all its changing landscapes, so the exhibition is called From the Mountains to the Sea: 53 Islands?

“The question mark is because it’s hard to say how many islands there really are, especially when you go upriver.”

The exhibition, which is hung on the hotel’s walls, features 53 works by camera club members.

“We’re a diverse lot,” Ms Thornton said. “We all see things differently and the conditions are ever-changing.

“When the club spent a weekend upriver around Coombadjha in August, at our annual PhotoCamp, it was hard to take colour images due to the harsh, drought-stricken landscape.

“Black and white seemed to work better for some of the members.

“The exhibition also features lots of downriver photos, with our members always on the lookout for a good early morning or evening shot.”

53 Islands co-founder Claire Aman said the camera club was the first group to get involved in the festival.

“We were really pleased back in February when the club said they’d plan an exhibition,” she said, “… and now we all get to enjoy this brilliant collection of river photos.”

Meanwhile, the Grafton library is holding a festival event, too, titled Watershed: Poetry and Images of the Clarence.

Award winning Australian poet Geoff Page will give a poetry reading in tandem with projected photographs by artist Graham Mackie and a spoken word piece by Haley Talbot, who will share the adventures she experienced during a solo paddle of the Clarence Rover – from source to sea.

Geoff Page was born in Grafton; his grandfather, Sir Earle Page (the library’s namesake), was the founder of the Country Party, now the National Party.

Where: Grafton library; when: Wednesday October 16: Cost: free; time: 5.30pm arrival and refreshments for poetry reading at 6pm.

Bookings: Ph 6641 0100 or online through the library’s website.

Grafton Camera Club members have captured 53 images ‘from the mountains to the sea’, which will be on exhibition at the Harwood Hotel until November 30. Image: Contributed