200cm x 170cm
Aluminium on burnt Spotted Gum
States Of Anguish is a sculptural response to the devastation left by the 2019-2020 bushfires across multiple states in Australia. My first artwork, “Sandberg”, was destroyed by these fires at an arts festival in regional Victoria. There was nothing I could do to protect it from the flames. All that was left was blackened, charred wood and melted metal.
The effects of the fires were more far-reaching than just my work, as I witnessed the loss of life and property experienced by people and wildlife. These heartbreaking scenes made me look inward and reflect, to see what beauty I may find.
The natural charred black hardwood has a depth that drew me towards using it as my canvas. The metal, reduced to liquid by the extreme heat, flowed away from the fire as if trying to escape created a striking contrast.
Images of animals like wallabies, birds, snakes, lizards, insects and plants shaped by flowing metal appeared while I created the work from aluminium spills and laser-cut triangles. From the centre of the sculpture outwards, the creatures attempt to escape the flames and heat in vain, suffering a horrendous fate by fire. The solid flat triangles inside the artwork represent the remnants of Sandberg, now embedded in an elliptical shape surrounded by melted aluminium.
The sculpture relates to the theme because it communicates the loss suffered by people and wildlife affected by the bushfires. The fires indiscriminately destroyed anything in its path, and our response shows resilience and our ability to rebuild and come back stronger.