10 years ago, my family’s farm was burnt in the Black Saturday bushfires. No one in our family was harmed, and the house was saved. So we had it better than most. I remember the fear when I was stuck in Melbourne because of work, not being able to call them, and not knowing if they were safe. I remember when my grandfather drove my sister and brother out, that the car reeked of smoke. I remember when it was finally safe to drive up there how awful it was to see the place I had spent a large part of my childhood burnt and blackened.
I’ve found the start of the new year really tough. This bushfire season has been devastating, and I’ve been feeling so angry, anxious and heartbroken for weeks at the lack of political action on climate change. The human cost and the cost to our wildlife and natural landscape has been horrific, and the season isn’t over yet.
A lot of artists have been posting images of their reactions to the fires. Some of it incredibly moving and heartfelt. I felt as though I should too, but I didn’t feel as though I could add anything, or represent my feelings accurately. It felt too personal and too raw. Like no artwork I could produce would express the depth of pain and heartbreak we’re collectively feeling.
In the past week, one of the prep assignments for the Make Art that Sells course was to create an artwork inspired by the word ‘Optimism’.
I was reminded of Black Saturday. I thought about when the trees started to grow back. Bright green leaves against burnt black bark. I thought it was just the most wonderful, beautiful thing. I’m finding it very hard to be optimistic right now. But that memory, of that brilliant, vibrant, beautiful new growth. That’s something to hold on to. It’s going to take our environment a long time to recover, but it can, and we can help.
The best thing we can do, is to vote for political parties that have good environmental policies, and are willing to combat climate change meaningfully. If you’d also like to donate towards helping our environment recover here are a few that do good work. This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a place to start.
Australian Conservation Foundation - https://www.acf.org.au/
Australian Wildlife Conservancy - https://www.australianwildlife.org/
Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund - https://cncf.com.au/
Greening Australia - https://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/