THE faces of the hard-working characters who make up Australia’s Oyster Coast are being shown to the world.
A photographic exhibition by Narooma’s Heide Smith was opened at Tathra’s Wharf Locavore café on Friday afternoon.
Around 40 guests enjoyed wine and, of course, oysters – freshly shucked on the spot by John Ralston of Batemans Bay – while taking in the many stunning images of the South Coast’s oyster farmers.
Ms Smith welcomed guests, saying her task of capturing the characters of the Oyster Coast was “quite an interesting journey”.
“I met so many different individual characters, yet they all have one thing in common,” Ms Smith said.
“They love their environment and open spaces.”
Ms Smith said she has a particular interest in photographing people.
“I love photographing people more than anything – particularly people who are working - in their own environment.
“They are real people.”
Several of those real people were also special guests at Friday’s exhibition opening, including Stacey and Andrew Loftus from Wonboyn Lake’s Loftus Oysters.
“One thing I’d like to say is that this new organisation has really brought farmers together,” Mr Loftus said, looking around the room at his fellow producers.
“I wouldn’t know all these other farmers without Australia’s Oyster Coast.
“We can tend to be a bit insulated from other growers, but this is a great opportunity to learn and to help each other out.”
Australia’s Oyster Coast executive officer Andrew Wales was on hand to officially open the exhibition and spruik the benefits of the now-12-month-old organisation.
“This is a group of South Coast farmers serious about marketing and selling themselves,” Mr Wales said.
“We are not only an association, but a brand.”
Mr Wales highlighted the three main tenets of the association – pushing domestic awareness “that these are the best oysters in the world”; promoting tourism through the South Coast oyster trail; and looking for export opportunities.
“The world is screaming for good quality Sydney rock oysters,” he said.
“It’s great news that by Christmas we will have a regular shipment heading overseas, which is a big thing for this region.”
Mr Wales said Ms Smith’s touring exhibition, Faces of Australia’s Oyster Coast, is one way this region can put the “big mystery” of oyster farming and those who do it out in front of people.
The exhibition - being held at Tathra in conjunction with the Festival of the Face – is on display at the Wharf Locavore until the end of June.