[MSN] Australia: Unique art gallery destroyed by fire

msn-list at te.verweg.com
Mon Oct 31 03:41:01 CET 2005

Unique art gallery destroyed
By Suellen Hinde

From: Northern Territory News  

ONE of Alice Springs' major tourist attractions - Panorama Guth - has been
destroyed by fire.

The 30-year-old art gallery was home to Australia's first panoramic mural
Panorama Guth - a 360-degree circular painting of the Central Australian
bushland by artist Henk Guth.
Opened by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975, it was the only panorama of
its type in the world. 

It was 6m high, 71m around and had a 20m diameter - and it made the viewer
feel like they were in the Outback. 

An interstate fire expert was flying to Central Australia to help detectives
investigate yesterday's fire. 

The gallery also housed paintings by famous artist Albert Namatjira,
including the priceless Twin Ghost Gums. But gallery owner Terry Leigh said
the painting was not in the gallery at the time of the fire. 

An Alice Springs resident for the past 50 years, Mr Leigh said he is

The fire also destroyed many other Guth paintings and a significant
Aboriginal artefact collection. 

Mr Leigh said the art was worth millions of dollars. "I feel sick," he said
yesterday. "I am absolutely devastated it is all gone."

Mr Leigh said police contacted him early yesterday to alert him to the fire.

Mr Leigh said the building was insured but he was not sure what he was going
to do now. 

"There is nothing to salvage," he said. "The staircase, the beams and
mezzanine floor, there's cracks in the walls - it's absolutely destroyed."

Police and fire crews were called to Panorama Guth in Hartley St just after
3am yesterday after reports the building was on fire. 

Police spokeswoman Therese Kuilboer said fire crews took more than an hour
to control the blaze. 

"A number of pieces of artwork were salvaged from the lower floor of the
building before the fire took hold," she said. 

"However the Panorama and other artworks on the mezzanine floor at the rear
of the building were totally destroyed in the fire."

Mr Leigh saved the gallery from being closed in 2003 after Mr Guth (who has
since passed away) decided to sell because of illness. 

Alice Springs mayor Fran Kilgariff said the incident was a tragedy. 

"I feel so bad for Terry," she said. "When Henk needed to sell he saved the
building for the town. 

"It was a show of real community-mindedness and it is terrible for this to
happen to him." More than two million people had visited Panorama Guth since
it opened. 

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