4th January 2020
For over twenty years I have traversed the twenty minute walk from the back of my Dad's garden to the Morton Park lookout in Bundanoon, New South Wales. It’s a quintessential part of visiting my father. Drive two hours, arrive, have tea, walk to the lookout.
Our ritual. My ritual. Walk through the dense bush. Lush and wet in parts, dry and dense in others, until you arrive to view the vast open bushland valley. I love sharing this simple walk with friends and witnessing their surprise when we reach the expansive view.
On lone walks I have encountered echidnas, wombats, countless kangaroos and even glow worms.
On 4 January 2020 I anxiously waited with my father as a bushfire grew excruciatingly close. I could not comprehend that it would reach our walk. Our walk was special, sacred, it would be protected. My heart could not bear it otherwise.
An app on my phone told me the fire was moving away from Bundanoon, yet at 9pm the sky turned red. We fled with ash raining down upon us. Minutes later, the bushland behind my father’s house – our walk – was engulfed in a storm of flames.
This memory continues to trigger a sense of deep sickness, grief and guilt in me. I fled while that land and those animals burnt.
This work honours the trauma inflicted upon the land, animals, insects and eco-system by the fires. Regeneration happens, but that red sky, that burning inferno also happened. Animals died and land burnt.
I love that walk. I still love it. This work is an expression of my love.
It is made from paper dyed with leaves collected in Morton National Park prior to the fire and then embellished by the disturbingly beautiful burnt leaves I collected in the park directly after the fire. The burn is etched into these leaves. A record of trauma, survival and complex darkness and the beauty and transformation inherent in this process.
Most importantly these works are odes of love – written with plant dye, stitch and flames – to the bush I have walked in for decades.