EXHIBITION: Artist Hilton Stephenson and bush poet Ray Essery with one of Mr Stephenson's works framed by Mr Essery.
EXHIBITION: Artist Hilton Stephenson and bush poet Ray Essery with one of Mr Stephenson's works framed by Mr Essery. Christian Morrow

Poet and painter at the Billi Hotel

BILLINUDGEL'S historic hotel will be the setting and subject of this weekend's exhibition The Painter and the Poet.

The exhibition kicks off at 2pm this Sunday and will feature the bush poetry of Billinudgel's Ray Essery and the artwork of South Golden Beach artist Hilton Stephenson, together with the sculptural work of Mother of the Universe and local bands.

Mr Stephenson said as well as celebrating the pub itself, the exhibition was planned to be a regular event celebrating the artistic talent of the area.

"Over a couple of beers, we talked about how there was a lot of talent here in the shire but it never gets showcased,” Mr Stephenson said.

"The idea was to do this first exhibition to fill the shed out the back of the pubwith my work, with a view to it becoming a regular annual event after that.”

The exhibition marks a return to the world of art for Mr Stephenson, who had given painting away for a while.

"I really owe a lot to Queensland businessman Don Channer for getting me back into painting,” Mr Stephenson said.

Mr Essery will perform a specially written bush poem that speaks about the history and the personalities that make the Billinudgel Hotel.

"It's an ode to the drinkers and the heroes at the Billinudgel Hotel,” MrEssery said.

"I started dairy farming up the valley starting in 1972 and Friday night we all went to the Billinudgel Pub.

"I used to play cards withMa Ring, the licensee at the time. She lived to 103 years old and was the oldest hotel licensee in the southern hemisphere at one point.

"I was lucky enough to talk to a lot of those early pioneers, in Billi and the Pocket.

"Patty Bugden VC and his mother owned that pub before he went off to the first world war.

"Lots of returned servicemen for the second world war used to drink there at the pub, as well as the cane cutters and the dairy farmers.”