Heggie’s Rock art exhibit reflects winter landscape

It was simply known as “The Rock” to Lillie Morris and her friends when she was growing up. It was the place to go to celebrate the outdoors and to get close to nature. Now, Heggie’s Rock: Revisited is the subject of an art exhibit, which will open on Jan. 20 at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art.


“It was a touchstone of my youth,” said Morris, whose works reflect Heggie’s Rock Preserve in Appling at this time of year with its palette of black, white and neutral tones in accordance with the bleakness and barrenness winter often brings to the natural landscape.

There are more than 20 pieces in her exhibit. They range from several encaustic paintings to a few collages that include her peers’ musings and memories of Heggie’s Rock plus pieces of the landscape.

Morris said she had visited Heggie’s Rock Preserve to prepare for her artistic undertaking, but much of the exhibit comes from her memories of the area, which was once open to the public. Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1980, the Nature Conservancy oversees the preserve at the heart of which is Heggie’s Rock, a Piedmont flat rock outcrop. The site is home to several at-risk plants and animals.

Tours are only given a few days out of the year usually in the spring, but a special tour has been arranged in conjunction with Morris’ exhibit. It will be on Jan. 21 with a limit of 24 guests. Reservations must be made through the Gertrude Herbert.

Another special event will be a lecture with Dr. Judith Gordon, a former Augusta University professor and botanist, at 3 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Augusta Museum of History. Both events are free.

Morris’ exhibit will be in the Creel Harrison Gallery at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art.

Also opening on Jan. 20 is Between Earth and Sky featuring the work of Asheville, N.C.-based artist Molly Sawyer.

Sawyer’s installation will feature nature objects such as driftwood.

“While Lillie’s exhibit focuses on landscapes, mine explores more emotional landscapes,” said Sawyer.

On the surface, Between Earth and Sky has a nautical theme to it, but there’s more to it than that. Sawyer uses the ocean as a basis to explore the feelings of fear in a tranquil setting; things that lie beneath the surface.

Sawyer, 43, has used her artwork to bring balance in her life.

She was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 10.

“This early trauma has become a lifelong challenge and continued search for balance. As an adult, I underwent a number of years struggle after a diagnosis of breast cancer. I have been put back together time and again and expect to continue this process as life goes on. These, among other, experiences have left me with both a better understanding of myself and questions as to the greater meanings of life,” she wrote in an email.

Between Earth and Sky will be in the Gertrude Herbert’s main gallery. Both exhibits will be on display through Feb. 24, and there will be an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 20.