Art works by Black Saturday survivors feature at The Dax Centre

May 15 / 158

Cornelia Selover, Exposure, 2009, ink on paper, 30 x 42 cm, Collection of the artist
Cornelia Selover, Exposure, 2009, ink on paper, 30 x 42 cm, Collection of the artist


An exhibition of creative works made by survivors of the Black Saturday bushfires opens at The Dax Centre on 27 May.


From The Fire brings together a selection of 200 artworks created after Black Saturday by people who were affected directly by the bushfires on Saturday 7 February 2009 that claimed 173 lives and burnt more than 420,000 hectares of land, leaving residents without power, infrastructure and social networks.


The exhibition features paintings, drawings, photographs, textiles and poems made by professional artists, community members and children from Yarra Glen Primary School. Many of the artworks represent the fire itself, while others show the destroyed and healing landscapes in the aftermath.


The Dax Centre’s Executive Chair Elizabeth Dax said From The Fire offers viewers an insight into the impact of trauma and some mechanisms of its dissipation. 


“The Dax Centre collects art made in response to disasters and traumatic events,” Associate Professor Dax said. “Creative pieces are used to develop audiences’ deeper understanding of the psychology of trauma, individuals’ capacities to cope with it, and the role that art and creativity could play in facilitating this process.


“By providing a platform for discussion and promoting engagement through art, our hope is that From The Fire will inspire empathy and engender increased understanding around the personal and social effects of psychological trauma.” 


To coincide with the exhibition, the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE) in partnership with The Dax Centre will present two events. The first is a screening and roundtable discussion featuring Moira Fahy’s documentary Afterburn, which traces the emotional experiences of three families in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires. Dr Grace Moore, Senior Research Fellow in the Shaping the Modern program at CHE, who has written the catalogue essay for From The Fire, will convene an interdisciplinary roundtable following the screening, featuring the filmmaker Moira Fahy, Professor Tom Griffiths (fire historian and William Keith Hancock Professor of History, ANU), Dr Alex Lambert (Lecturer in Communication and Media, Monash University) and Ruth Wraith (psychoanalytical psychotherapist, with particular expertise in the aftermath of disasters).


Afterburn, Thursday June 11, 6pm. Book by June 10 at:


On Friday 14 August there will also be a full day workshop for teachers and professionals exploring creative and therapeutic approaches to working with students, teachers and school communities in bushfire affected areas, will be run.  Book at


From The Fire will run Wednesday 27 May – 30 October 2015 at The Dax Centre gallery, Kenneth Myer Building, 30 Royal Parade. 

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