This is the ashcloud from the Northcliffe fire of just over a year ago. It is one of many shots I took from home, tracking the fire's progress day by day, and observed with a mixture of absolute awe and trepidation. It impacted lives but thanks to major fire-fighting efforts, none were lost.
I was in the middle of my grant application for a planned new body of artwork: the theme was the contrast of order and chaos in the Australian landscape, a new take on that old Romantic era subject of 'man vs nature'. Fire has always played a big part in my art, both as a subject and literally as a source of art materials. A potent metaphor for nature out of our control... now it was playing out before me on a dramatic scale.
I was fortunate to later get the grant (a WA Government Department of Culture and the Arts Development Grant), and to have the opportunity to use the magnificent gallery space at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, a large space for large ideas. So in July 2015, I began the process of playing with new materials and techniques. It began with gathering the charred remains of the landscape - ash, charcoal and scorched earth. I also started collecting materials and potential surfaces from hardware stores, those chapels of our 'renovation nation'. It's fair to say there is a cultural obsession in Australia with building stuff! So, only natural to pair the two: Destruction and Construction...
As these artworks take shape, I'll be adding posts: watch this space!