A stunning exhibition of Sapphire Coast seascapes is helping deliver a new ocean-going vessel for Marine Rescue Eden.
Eden-based professional photographer Phill Small is also an avid sea kayaker, regularly taking to the water in his 5.5 metre vessel with many thousands of dollars worth of camera gear below deck.
With a military background, Phill is vigilant about his safety and following procedures that will ensure it, so when setting out he always checks in with Marine Rescue Eden first.
"They are there from 6am to 6pm, 365 days per year. I rely on and value the work they do and know they have got me covered," Phill said.
Having experienced a dangerous incident on the water near Bittangabee Bay in 2012, during which his sea kayak failed on him, he has extra appreciation for the vital role Marine Rescue Eden plays.
"I was able to self-rescue, but they were right across the situation, knowing I hadn't arrived when I was expected they contacted the police and my loved ones and were on standby to deploy search and rescue," Phill said.
Offering support and recognition to the not-for profit rescue organisation is important to Phill, so he decided to donate 10 per cent of any artwork sales to Marine Rescue Eden, a gesture Unit Commander Stuart Manson was both surprised and grateful to hear about.
"It's in my heart to help them," Phill said.
The two men met with ACM on Monday morning at Phill's current display at Merimbula Airport and talked about safe sea navigation and the many beautiful local sites pictured in the photographs.
"I'll do anything I can to support Marine Rescue, it's priceless having the security of knowing you know I'm out there," Phill said to Stuart.
Unbeknown to Phill, who was hoping to donate the money towards a dedicated vessel for Marine Rescue Eden, the unit is slated to receive a boat in about six months, for which further fundraising efforts will be required.
Stuart said Marine Rescue will need to finance the 12.5 metre boat and a training program for leading crews who will utilise it to deliver the vital rescue service out to the shelf, south to the border and further north as required.
"We are doing day-to-day routines but still need ocean-going capability. We are the last safe port until Tasmania and there are a lot of transiting yachts and vessels in the area," Stuart said.
"Let's make this something the community can be aware of," Phill said.
"We are a seafaring town and I think it's critical we have a vessel."
With 21 rostered shifts each week and 43 active members, Stuart said it is a challenging time for the unit, which is one of 44 units across NSW, and they are always looking for new members.
Passionate about promoting Eden and the surrounding areas through his stunning photography, Phill said people buy art when they connect with it and he wants to aesthetically please people who know the region well.
"My photos make great gifts as wedding presents and for people who have lived here," he said.
Bega Valley Regional Gallery (BVRG) approached Phill through the Eden Visitor Information Centre to organise the exhibition currently on show until July 16 at the newly refurbished airport. See more about the exhibition on the BVRG website by clicking here.
The photographic work is also currently on display in Eden at the Great Southern Inn, South Coast Crystals and Golden Ocean Chinese Restaurant, and the landscape photographs have been printed and produced locally at Art Essence in Pambula.