The 2020 Indigenous artwork has been created by Aboriginal Artist Alice Pepper from Gunai/Kurnai Country in East Gippsland.
Alice was chosen to create the artwork for her strong connection to her community and the significant role she has had in working with people and communities affected by the Bushfires where she assists Aboriginal communities in improving their lives.
The strength and unity of family and community during the challenging and traumatic times of the bushfires across the country is embedded in this artwork. This style of artwork is traditional to the Gippsland area where linework is used to give meaning. The landscape of East Gippsland from the mountains, bushlands, rivers and sea have been depicted.
The Vixen head that looks over the country is through the eyes of those surrounded by the fires, hoping for more rain. The blue on the dress symbolises the donations of water that were received across East Gippsland from Melbourne when there was a lack of water and poor quality in some areas.
Footprints travel along the ‘Gippsland line’ that runs down the centre of the artwork and away from the fires towards Lakes Entrance, this illustrates where many people from townships on the mountains were evacuated from.
Along this ‘Gippsland line’ people are helping each other and gathering in large numbers. This is represented in a circle to show gathering and coming together of communities, with many people offering accommodation, food, water and looking after children. The rivers can be seen flowing horizontally through the circle and represents a place where people crossed when evacuating.
In the middle of the artwork, is the burned landscape of trees and natives. The green regrowth on the trees and leaves is a stark contrast to the blackened country.
“After a traumatic experience watching our country burn, the new sign of life gives a sense of calm and healing. That’s what we need to do as well after such a traumatic time is find ways to heal. We need to look after the land because in turn the land looks after us and if it’s sick, we’re sick”.
“Painting this story was healing for me”.