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Devastating effects of bushfires explored in LUMAS Gallery and Sequana award winning application.

23 Nov 20 · Community & Culture

LUMAS Gallery and Sequana has announced Vic McEwan as the winner of the November round of the LUMAS Gallery and Sequana Arts Grant Program.

Devastating effects of bushfires explored in LUMAS Gallery and Sequana award winning application

McEwan, who is Artistic Director of The Cad Factory, an innovative arts organisation based in regional NSW, developed a series of works, Specimen in Smoke, inspired by the fires that raged across Australia in January 2020.

He projected photographs that he had taken of animal specimens from the National Museum of Australia Institute of Anatomy specimen collection, into the suffocating smoke-filled night air. Within the airborne materiality of the burned forests, his haunting photographic works explore our chaotic present and uncertain future as unfolding legacies of brutal colonial histories.

In his winning piece titled Specimen – Koala Paw, smoke was created by projecting an image of a koala paw from the Anatomy collection, into thick bushfire smoke and represents an emerging field of practice for Vic McEwan that works in collaboration with the materiality of place.

“Bushfires are ever present in the Australian psyche and the most recent bushfires swept across the country less than a year ago that devastated the landscape. McEwan’s photographic representation made amidst the smoke and ash during these bushfires is a work that feels claustrophobic – with the eye obscured by the thick smoke – and yet somehow hopeful, as a beam of light rises from the ashes”.

Devastating effects of bushfires explored in LUMAS Gallery and Sequana award winning application

“The photograph responds to the environment as the photograph was taken amidst the fires, and yet also the hand of the artist is present with the constructed nature of the use of an animal’s paw. It is a work that makes you enquire as to what you are seeing, what is going on, and question how it was made. It is work that speaks to a moment in Australia’s collective memory that devastated lives, the environment and wildlife,” said Anouska Phizacklea, Director, Monash Gallery of Art.

McEwan will use the grant to support his practice to realise a new series of artworks about water management working in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries at The Narrandera Fisheries where Murray Cod where taken following the Menindee Fish Kill events. Working with elders, community and scientists, this new work will explore cultural, scientific and emotional responses to our river system.
McEwan aims to use his work to contribute to and enrich broader conversations about the role that the arts sector can play within our communities.

“McEwan’s artwork immediately caught my eye amongst the entries. Having personally experienced bushfires in a close proximity in early 2020, I felt a real connection to this work. The singular ray of light, which is at the centre of the artwork, caught my eye when I first looked at it. The almost god-like beam at first glance is peaceful and calm, almost serene. But at closer examination the viewer realises the ferocity of the fire and the devastation that it is causing. It takes the viewer’s breath away. The work makes you think and realise the devastation that the environment is subjected to,” said Eugenia Wilson, Managing Director, LUMAS Gallery Australia.

Sequana Managing Partners, Mike Walsh and Frank Fisseler are passionate about the arts and helping artists during these difficult times and the LUMAS Gallery and Sequana Arts Grant Program is a joint initiative by project management consultancy Sequana and LUMAS, and is designed to support and celebrate creatives of all calibres, providing Australian artists with both funding and a platform to showcase their work.

Applications for the final monthly grant is open until 30 November and each winner’s work will be on display at an exhibition in early 2021 to showcase the six winning artworks.