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Artwork - 'CFA is the Best', Healesville Primary School, 2009 Image Reg. No: HT 24598

This artwork was created by Rory, a Grade 3/4 student from Healesville Primary School, as part of an art project that took place during the time of the 2009 Victorian bushfires. The artwork depicts a CFA truck travelling along a road through a burnt-out landscape. The lightning strikes in the distance remind us that the 2009 bushfires were so large they created their own weather system.

'CFA is the Best' was selected for inclusion in The Book of Light, an online initiative from the Departments of Education and Early Childhood Education in response to the 2009 bushfires and was also one of the artworks on display in the Melbourne Gallery at Melbourne Museum from 29 November 2009 to 31 January 2010.
Mixed media on paper. Foreground consists of a red truck CFA identification on top of a black road with white markings and burnt trees to the left of the truck. In the background is a green hill, black clouds and two streaks of lightning.
Statement Of Significance:
This painting is a direct and permanent connection to the Black Saturday bushfires, the most devastating in Victoria's recorded history.

It is a first-hand account of a child's experience through the bushfires, and is part of a collection of artworks produced by children at Healesville Primary School during the bushfires in February 2009.These pieces are important because they give us a rare opportunity to represent the experiences of children during a time of crisis. They remind us that children were present in every bushfire-affected area, and that their response is uniquely shaped by their age and experience.

The artworks are both documentary, in that they give us a first-hand account of children's experience through the fires, and symbolic, because they represent children everywhere who felt the impact of Black Saturday. Their importance as historical documents is based not so much on the breadth or accuracy of their content as on their immediacy. These pieces were created during the time that Healesville was under direct threat from the fires, and are vivid, striking portraits of the town through an emergency.

In the aftermath of the 2009 bushfires, art-making was one of the tools to help children express and begin to make sense of their experiences through the emergency. These artworks symbolise the resilience of children through times of trauma and acknowledge the importance of the efforts that addressed the psychological as well as the physical recovery of bushfire survivors.

This painting also represents the effect of the bushfires on communities that were not destroyed but were severely affected by the fire and the succeeding emergency efforts. Although most attention has been justifiably directed to communities like Kinglake and Marysville which suffered great damage and loss of life, the painting is a reminder of the physical and psychological impact of the bushfires beyond their actual range.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr Keith Ferguson, 2010
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 270 mm (Height), 370 mm (Length)
Dimension Comment: Dimensions are approximate - collections management to complete when mounts are removed

More information

Tagged with: children, bushfires, emergency services, artworks
Themes this item is part of: Childhood & Youth Collection, Domestic & Community Life Collection, Healesville Primary School Bushfire Artworks Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection
Primary Classification: SUSTAINABILITY
Secondary Classification: Natural Disasters
Tertiary Classification: bushfires
Inscriptions: Rory / CFA
Format: Drawing: Colour
Artist: Master Rory, Healesville, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, 2009

Created as part of a school art project at Healesville Primary School
Place & Date Depicted: Healesville, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009
Date of Event: Healesville, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, 7 Feb 2009

Artwork depicts Black Saturday Bushfires
References: Rachel Skinner, 'Helping children cope with trauma,' Shine: a publication of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2: March 2009, 50-55.

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