Imagine this: you spend a lifetime creating the perfect sculpture garden and then you lose everything… This is the incredible and inspirational story of Bruno Torfs: how it all started, how he lost everything and how the best came out when things got really dark.
Bruno Torfs was born in South America and lived there with his family till the age of fifteen. At this point the whole family made the move to Europe in seek of new opportunities. After working as a sign writer Bruno made a gradual transition to become a fulltime artist. Through his diverse talents and a spirit for adventure Bruno created a unique style full of culture and character. This was achieved through his many trips around the world.
Sketching the scenes and faces of his journeys allowed Bruno to return home and make oil painting and sculpture versions of his experiences.
These artworks would then be sold in a series of annual exhibitions hosted in the lower levels of the family home.
After several years of this lifestyle, Bruno and the family made a decision to pack up and move to Australia to create a sculpture garden that he would run as a permanent attraction. The family arrived in Melbourne and shortly after had found the perfect place in the small Victorian village of Marysville. After months of backbreaking work Bruno’s art and sculpture garden was opened to the public.
The garden began with just fifteen life sizes terracotta sculptures, but after years of hard labor — over one hundred and fifteen pieces were on display. Below you can see some of our favorites.
But then disaster struck as fires swept through the town of Marysville, Australia . . .
In February 2009, the Black Saturday bushfires occured. A series of bushfires that ignited across the Australian state of Victoria. The fires occurred during extreme bushfire-weather conditions and resulted in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bushfire. Bruno and the rest of the townsfolk were shut out of the town by authorities for two months whilst the police conducted an investigation and attempted to identify the remains of the victims.
This was a testing time for all Marysvillians, with most of the townsfolk (Bruno included) unable to know how much of their homes and businesses there were left to return to. Fortunately for Bruno and the family they received overwhelming support from family, friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers from all over the globe during this difficult period. This was a truly inspiring experience that helped them to find the strength to face the challenge of rebuilding their lives.
Bruno already knew at this point that his home and gallery were completely destroyed, but the extent of the damage to his sculpture garden was yet to been discerned. The pictures below were taken on the day the Bruno was finally allowed to return and behold what had become of his treasured artworks.
Since returning to Marysville, progress has been steady on rebuilding this place of magic and wonders.
Plans and permits needed be obtained to even begin rebuilding Bruno’s Home and gallery. This has been no small feat. The mess left over by the fires was atrocious. Literally tons of debris had to be removed from the forested area. With the help of friends and volunteers this process took two months.
After that is was time to start replanting. The native ferns rebounded very well and the green is slowly returning to the area. It will be many years though before the forest resembles the lush wonderland that it used to be.
Below is what the gardens are looking like now.
Bruno’s words: “The bushfires deeply touched us all in many ways. It allowed me to see that people had a heart for each other, that when things really got dark, the best in us comes out. We have lost a lot, but life also provides us opportunities to gain a new vision, lots of new friends and a blank canvas to play. In the meantime, nature is already regenerating itself. The green is slowly returning and the rivers are flowing, finding new ways”.
His strength and determination is an inspiration to us all. Share Bruno’s wonderful art and inspiring story with others.