Bushfire Journal

The effects of human activities on the planet are usually understood through statistics, graphs or sometimes, devastatingly sad photographs and film. Climate change is here with us right now and can be seen in the changes in the seasons, the floods, droughts and cyclones.
Bushfire Journal tells the story of experiencing a fire threatened region in New South Wales, Australia. These fires were extraordinary, burning rainforest areas nearby never burnt before.
This work is a two week extract from a visual and textual journal beginning November 8 2019 (the first signs that fires were approaching) to November 21 (with a project meeting to help restore devastated Koala habitat).
Bushfire Journal uses photographs, video, texts, poetry and recorded sound to meditate on the situation and to celebrate what we have, showing some of what we have to lose if we continue the way we are going.
This work, like many of my others, interweaves the visual and textual, the theoretical, the poetic, the everyday mundane and the ecological.

  • John Bennett
  • John Bennett
  • John Bennett
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    nature, ecology, climate change
  • Runtime:
    41 minutes 38 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 25, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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Director Biography - John Bennett

John Bennett is a poet, published worldwide, who has won major poetry prizes. He also writes essays on environmental issues and my PhD explored ecopoetics. He lives in New South Wales by the sea in a beautiful sub-tropical region of rivers and forests, and has become a visual artist, but one with text embedded in most of the work.
He gives talks at Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery and exhibited a multi-media presentation ‘First Light - from Eos to Helios’, Coffs Harbour Regional Galley, from July, 2017. A documentary on this project, ‘Poetry at first light’ was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot, February, 2016. He recently provided texts, photographs and videos for artists for the national ‘Overwintering’ project (migratory shorebirds) exhibited at Coffs Regional Gallery, summer 2019/2020.
Other screenings/exhibitions include: Biligan (commissioned), Bellingen TurtleFest, 2016; the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, Blackheath, Oct 2013; Matilda St Gallery, Macksville, Sept 2012; Balmain Watch House, Syndey, Oct 2011; Sydney Writers Festival, 2010; Newtown Underground Film Festival, Sydney, 2010; and a multi-media installation, MacLeay Museum, University of Sydney, 2007.
His videos have also been published in the special 30th anniversary edition of Going Down Swinging; ekleksographia (USA); Poetry Australia and online.
He has won photographic competitions and his images are used by The Dept. of Primary Industries, News South Wales, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, local councils, tourist authorities, festivals and schools.
He was Artistic Director of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival for five years,
John Bennett
Blue Poles, Birugan Close
Valla Beach, NSW 2448
+61 2 400 261166

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Director Statement

I live in a beautiful part of the world, a sub-tropical region of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia. We live an hour drive away from the oldest rainforest in the world, a five minute walk to the sea and a minute’s walk to Jagun Nature Reserve.
The everyday is what is important, what builds up the narrative of a life, a sense of community, an urge to believe in home. Friends lost variously, houses, sheds, a newly planted forest. People were losing their lives and it was a burgeoning disaster for wildlife. At one point we had to pack, ready to leave – or stay and fight. Hard decisions / easy decisions. We need to be more aware of our actions and more responsive to what we need to do.
‘Before the fires, Reece was burning Gaagal Wanggaan
mosaic style, using the colour of smoke to reveal the course
to take. He wants to share this traditional knowledge.’
It is possible to imagine fire without humanity. It is impossible to imagine humanity without fire. Steve Pyne, Pyric other . . .
I show the beauty of this world through daily observations revealing what we are in the process of losing.