Touring Exhibition influenced by the Black Saturday Fires 2009
Leonie Ryan, Ted Baillieu, Kerrie Warren, Werner Theinert, Ursula Theinert, Gary Blackwood
Queen’s Hall, Parliament House Melbourne 2010
‘Firewall’ March 2009
Acrylic on Canvas 122 cm x 183 cm, Collected by Major Sponsor – International Power / Mitsui Loy Yang B
‘Emergence: Art on the Move’ 2011 Federation Square Atrium, Melbourne Victoria
Artist statement relating to the artwork and experiences of the Black Saturday Fires by Kerrie Warren
I’m a contemporary visual artist, an abstract expressionist painter. I work ‘in the moment’ and am very much influenced by my environment at the time. The ‘Bushfire Series’ came through naturally – my personal experience of the fires, and their aftereffect, became an ongoing part of my life. I live in Crossover Victoria and my studio narrowly escaped the Bunyip Ridge fire on Black Saturday 2009, a very long day and night that I will never forget. It was a day that inspired varying emotions as the fire travelled closer and the wind that came with it grew stronger. Earlier in the day I clearly remember feeling somewhat empowered to fight and defend, but those feelings quickly turned into those of utter helplessness and vulnerability as I was forced to flee.
My husband works for Victoria Police and was the Local Area Commander in Latrobe Valley at the time. Naturally he became heavily involved in the aftermath of the fires at Callignee and Traralgon South. Large areas of the landscape had been consumed and numerous lives had been taken leaving local communities reeling from the shock. Household discussions related to this catastrophic event, the welfare of those directly impacted, and the gathering evidence of ‘Fire Bugs’ – they too began to appear in my work – they just flowed out and I didn’t try to stop them. The environment has always shaped my work in a sense. I explore the ‘sensation’ of it. Rhythm, movement, energy ‘life’ are recorded in the moment. The influence is always there…
Two artists that I was currently working with at the time, Werner and Ursula Theinert, were directly impacted by the fires in Callignee and nearly lost their lives on that day. It was a heartfelt experience for me and for the other artists in the group (Leonie Ryan and Peter Biram) when we resumed working on our arts project titled ‘Fields of View’ which had by then evolved to reflect our personal experiences of the Black Saturday Fires – the Theinert’s had to rebuild their studio first. The body of work that emerged from each of us brought forth emotional responses from various Victorian communities who could directly or indirectly relate to the experience – many offered their own stories. Through the art we found a way not only to express ourselves but to create an opportunity for such a sensitive issue to be brought up and discussed. Exhibitions of the work seemed to provide such a space as we toured to regional galleries and Parliament House in Melbourne throughout 2010.
Working together as a group we created opportunities to connect with various supporters and sponsors, including our major sponsor – International Power / Mitsui Loy Yang B. One event seemed to inspire another and in the following year 2011 we were invited as a group to be part of another Black Saturday arts project titled ‘Emergence: Art on the Move’ which involved artists from Kinglake and surrounding areas. It was a deeply moving experience as our groups joined to exhibit works at Federation Square in Melbourne, both in the Atrium and on the Big Screen.
Such experiences are never forgotten and remain part of us always. Nature is inherently rhythmic and as the seasons came and went we soon found ourselves marvelling and commenting on the brilliance of the first green leaves against the matt black backdrop of the burnt trunks – ‘life’. I felt inspired to work again… to put down the tin of red paint and pick up the green one!
Link to Speech made by Kerrie Warren at Parliament House in 2010 HERE
‘Fields of View’ at Parliament House, Friday 5th Feb 2010 – Thank you speech by Kerrie Warren
On behalf of my amazing colleagues – artists Leonie Ryan, Peter Biram, Werner & Ursula Theinert and myself, I would like to sincerely thank the following people who have helped make this journey such a wonderful and healing experience for us all….
Mr.Ted Baillieu MLA, Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for the Arts, we are truly honoured that you have officially launched a new arts movement Environmental Expressionism inspired by Mr. Peter Biram, here in Queen’s Hall, Parliament House tonight. Thank you also for acknowledging our group project ‘Fields of View’, a touring art exhibition based on the Black Saturday Fires, coordinated by artist Leonie Ryan.
Thank you so much Ted, you really have made this an historical occasion and a night to remember!
Mr. Russell Broadbent MP, Federal Member for McMillan, we are so pleased that you could make it here tonight, we really appreciate your time, your support and your ongoing interest in what we do. Thank you so much.
I would also like to thank our group sponsor ‘Gipps Tafe’. On behalf of the ‘Fields of View’ artists I would like to thank Dr. Peter Whitley CEO of Gippstafe, Jim Vivien, Dr. Phillip Bachelor, David Bruce and Head of the Art Design and Media department, Mr. Gary Dunbier. Gipps Tafe has been a learning and growing experience for each artist within this group at some point, and we are sincerely grateful and encouraged by your ongoing interest and financial support in this project… thank you for choosing to be a part of our future as professional artists.
I would also like to thank our very good friend and artist Steve Gray for being with us here tonight and for taking photographs to record these precious and historical moments, thank you Steve. Also, a big thank you to filmmaker Matthew Cairns who has previously worked with Werner and Ursula Theinert on the documentary, ‘Touched by Fire’ personal stories from Victoria’s bush fire affected communities of 2009.
I’m so pleased to see Deece Campbell and her husband Steve in the audience, Deece and her son James have worked tirelessly on this project behind the scenes and we all appreciate the time and the creative energy that has been put into this.
This night is particularly special because everyone in this room is now a part of our journey and we are so pleased that you here right now to celebrate this occasion with us, but of course, this night just would not have happened without the generous support of our amazing MC, Mr. Gary Blackwood MP, Member for Narracan. Gary, we can’t thank you enough for your enthusiasm, your ongoing professional support and your genuine kindness. It has been a real pleasure to work with yourself and your very helpful staff, Jennifer and Matt.
On behalf of all the artists we would like to take this opportunity to thank you!
International Power / Mitsui Loy Yang B
Private Collections in Perth, Queensland & Victoria Australia