Beauty to be found in bushfire’s wake

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Beauty to be found in bushfire’s wake

PJ Gilling

Tasmanian photographer PJ Gilling is one of 82 artists who have entered Palliative Care Australia’s Life in Death art competition. See the full range of entries and cast your vote for the People’s Choice award.

A brilliant strip of orange caught PJ Gilling’s eye as he strolled through Tasmanian bush devastated by fires earlier this year. It was the inner timber of a charred tree that had fallen and split open.

The amateur landscape photographer spent days exploring and photographing the blackened landscape, about half an hour from Launceston. From dozens of photographs, he selected a series of eight to exhibit for his art subject at university.

PJ’s image of the log came straight to mind when he heard about the Life in Death art competition. He says he found great beauty in the natural landscape, despite the destruction.

Mother Nature - A Force of Destruction and Life
Mother Nature - A Force of Destruction and Life (click on image to enlarge)

“The whole inside of the stump was living, it was only the outside that was scorched, so there was still life in the remnants of the surroundings,” he says.

“Basically everything just keeps evolving. When we do die we turn into something else. It keeps going on I guess. And a bushfire can give life to certain trees and bushes that can only grow in a bushfire.”

PJ says he knew the area well, having visited many times before the fire. He was shocked to see the new landscape, which was quiet and surreal, but not upset to see the damage the fire had wreaked.

“It just made me think how powerful Mother Nature is and how life evolves with new beginnings.”

While PJ is studying a bachelor of business, he enjoys photographing the coast, bush and outback. He hopes that one day photography might become more than just a hobby.