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Digital photograph - 'City at night through Burnt Trees', Black Saturday Bushfires, Bowden Spur, Victoria, 30 Aug 2009 Image Reg. No: MM 117015

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.
Digital photograph.
Statement Of 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.
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.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr Michael Britton
Discipline: History

More information

Tagged with: bushfires, photography, rural landscapes, landscape photography, photographic exhibitions, photography exhibitions
Themes this item is part of: Domestic & Community Life Collection, Images & Image Making Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Bushfires Collection
Primary Classification: SUSTAINABILITY
Secondary Classification: Natural Disasters
Tertiary Classification: bushfires
Format: Digital Still Image: Colour
Place & Date Depicted: Bowden Spur, Victoria, Australia, 30 Aug 2009
Photographer: Mr Michael Britton, Bowden Spur, Victoria, Australia, 30 Aug 2009
Place & Date Exhibited: Bridges Restaurant, Hurstbridge, Victoria, Australia, Feb 2010

As part of the Of 'Bushfire Photo Exhibition'. The exhibition catalogue included photograph name, photographer and details of sale price.
Organiser of Event: Ms Anita Norris, Arthurs Creek, Victoria, Australia, Feb 2010

Of 'Bushfire Photo Exhibition'
Author: Mr Jim Usher, St Andrews, Victoria, Australia, 2010

Photograph published in 'Footsteps in the ash: the story of St Andrews and Strathewen in the 2009 bushfires' by Jim Usher and Mac Gudgeon. St Andrews, Vic. 2010.

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