Summary

Digital photograph taken by Michael Britton on Sunday, 30 August 2009, specifically to capture the night lights of Melbourne in response to a call for a photograph competition.

Michael subsequently offered this photograph for inclusion in the community-led 'Bushfire Photo Exhibition', which featured thirty-five local photographs, at the Bridges Restaurant/Nursery, Hurstbridge, held between February and March 2010. It was also published in the book 'Footsteps in the Ash' which documents St Andrews' and Strathewen's experiences during Black Saturday. This image is part of the the Victorian Bushfire Collection.

Description of Content

The image features a night view of the suburbs of Melbourne, with the CBD in the background. The foreground features burnt trees, and the reflection of the city lights mimics the pall of smoke haze present during the fires and their aftermath. Michael took the photograph on the evening of 30 August 2009, in honour of a conversation with a fireman who had been involved in searching for survivors following the Black Saturday bushfires. The fireman had reflected on his experience of the blackened earth, the glowing embers on the hills to the south, the contrast of the city lights and how the blackness surrounding him was palpable. The lights of the city were reminiscent of the burning embers, smoke and fire. Michael was facing south from Kinglake, towards the city on Bowden Spur Rd, Kinglake, and remembers feeling the crunch of the ground underneath his feet, as he passed through ashes, frost and dead timber to get to the location.

Physical Description

Digital photograph.

Significance

The bushfires of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009 caused significant damage to personal, community and state infrastructure. This image taken some time after the fires shows the landscape scarring and demonstrates how long it takes for the bush to regenerate after a natural disaster of such a grand scale.

This image is historically significant as it documents physical damage to the urban environment. It is a visual response to the photographers memory of a firefighters comment relating to searching for survivors after the fire, as the firefighter, walked through a blackened landscape alight with glowing embers, the fire fighter looked south and saw blackness, then the lights of the city.

The image reveals and document the photographers own experience of the fires, imbuing each image with the personal reflection of a significant historical moment. Historical significance is embedded in the image as it reflects both the closeness and the distance of the city, allowing the photographer to reveal an individual and evocative interpretation of the direct impact of a bushfire. Inclusion in the 'The Bushfire Photo Exhibition', held at Hurstbridge between February and March 2010, and, as one of nineteen pictures chosen to be published in the book 'Footsteps in the Ash' adds to this photo's historical significance. The publication 'Footsteps in the Ash' can be seen as both an intimate and authentic account of the events of Black Saturday, experienced within the St Andrews and Strathewen communities by documenting this photographers personal experience during the fires.

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