Artist Janno McLaughlin can still picture dust rising in the distance as visitors approached her family's isolated farmhouse.
"You see someone coming down the drive, and you put the kettle on. You're excited to see anyone, so you make a big fuss of it," she told AAP.
The daughter of a jackaroo and granddaughter of a Country Women's Association stalwart, Ms McLaughlin was raised in the NSW Riverina, where she and her sister spent their days drafting livestock on horseback.
Decades later, her rural childhood inspires her passion for art as a force for good.
"Everyone in the bush helps a neighbour, and when someone's having a hard time you reach out," she says.
"My artwork is an extension of country Australia, where you lend a hand."
That sentiment is alive in Ms McLaughlin's jumbled studio in Scone, in the Hunter region, where bright swathes of fabric are draped over furniture, and floral canvases cover the walls.
Here she is gathering piles of blue and yellow patches to make an enormous sunflower-patterned quilt to send to the people of Ukraine.
Ms McLaughlin was introduced to Ukrainian culture through an art competition last year, when young artists spoke to her from their homes and displayed their works.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, she wondered about their fate and contacted the competition organisers.
The idea of a collaborative quilt emerged, and Ms McLaughlin put out a call for contributions of colourful patches.
They have arrived in packages from as far away as South Africa, and as close as the Scone pre-school. She hopes to receive hundreds more.
The Scone CWA is helping sew the material, which is crocheted, embroidered or beaded. Each contributor has expressed messages of love and hope in different ways.
"It's a metaphoric hug from a long way away," Ms McLaughlin says.
"These awful things are happening, and people around the world are watching. People love them and care for them."
She imagines the quilt could be laid over bomb sites, draped on monuments, or separated into sections and sent across the country to keep people warm.
An artist friend is helping children who escaped bombed cities contribute to the quilt.
"It makes me teary because they've lost so much. It's hard to even fathom," Ms McLaughlin says.
This is not the first time Ms McLaughlin has immersed herself in altruistic art.
For several years in the mid-2000s, she and others painted vivid murals in the slums of Buenos Aires.
Ms McLaughlin says the award-winning project drew greater attention to the lives of people in the slums and changed the way they saw themselves.
"I'm a champion of colour because it changes the feeling and atmosphere,'' she says.
"Colour can change your destiny."
Australian Associated Press
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