Cover image: Still frame from Do Brumbies Dream in Red? video work by Tom Goldner & Angus Scott
26 November 2022 – 5 February, 2023
Of Embers, by James Tylor & Rebecca Selleck, Katrin Koenning, Tom Goldner & Angus Scott and Isabella Capezio is an exhibition exploring the cultural status of fire in Australia
The Black Summer bushfires of 2019 and 2020 are still smoking in the mind. Intensified by climate change, these ‘megafires’ left behind the largest burnt expanse witnessed on earth in the modern record.
Fire itself is pure paradox: essential for survival and yet capable of destroying life. Of Embers brings together the work of artists who have responded to this episode and the history and cultural status of fire in Australia.
James Tylor and Rebecca Selleck’s Fire Country speaks to fact that fire has always been here, folded into Aboriginal knowledge and experience over millennia, existing within a totality of deep ecological and cultural time. Here fire is reconfigured from threat to natural ally in Indigenous cultural practice. Katrin Koenning’s photographs visualise an earthen poetics that rests in the polarity between ash and snow on Lake Mountain. For over a decade Koenning has watched and listened to the bush as it struggles to regenerate after the devastation of the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. Tom Goldner & Angus Scott’s photographs and video for Do Brumbies Dream in Red connect the paradoxical status of both brumby and fire in the Australian landscape and imagination. Isabella Capezio’s videos, photographs, found objects and ceramics for Feeling Loss address the perceptual slippage between the recorded image, the news media and the actual multi-sensorial experience of bushfires.
There are no images of the raging inferno in this exhibition. These artists portray the aftermath of fire and the consequences for landscapes and sensitive ecologies knocked off balance by human impact, now in recovery. Of Embers is a creative call for awareness that addressing this balance rests with us.