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Black Saturday

On the 7th February 2009, the State of Victoria, Australia endured what can only be considered the most aggressive bushfires in recorded history. The State was already suffering from severe drought, the land dry and parched, best described as a waiting tinderbox. The days leading up to Black Saturday recorded the highest temperatures since records began in 1859.

173 recorded deaths, more than 2,030 homes and 3500 structures destroyed, temperatures of up to 46 degrees Celsius and winds reaching in excess of 100km per hour (62mph).

As a Combat Engineer (Sapper) in the Australian Army Reserves, I, along with many others received a call to help with the recovery efforts following the tragedy. We were stationed in both King Lake and Marysville for a period of just over two weeks, our role consisted of searching through the destruction for remains. The tedious task not made easy by the heat, and the fact that we were required to be completely clad in full body suits, dust masks, gum boots, goggles and gloves during our tasking.

During waiting periods and downtime, I was constantly filling in my sketchbook of what I saw around me, the lads I shared the experience with and the destruction everywhere. It was an experience that will stay with me forever, and the following year I spent working through that experience into a series of watercolour paintings, which can now be found in the Australian War Memorial Collection.

The images shown here are some of the research works created during my final year at Art School in 2009.

black saturday

watercolour on paper

black saturday

charcoal, watercolour & mixed media on paper

black saturday

charcoal on paper

black saturday

watercolour on paper

black saturday watercolour

watercolour on paper

king lake primary school

watercolour on paper

black saturday

charcoal on paper

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