Case studies

Strathewen Bushfire Memorial

After the ‘Black Saturday’ bushfires in 2009, the community of Strathewen, Victoria, wanted to honour the memories of the people who died and all that they had lost and gained in the bushfire. The community, local government and the Red Cross worked together to create a place where people could come ‘to remember and reflect’.  Arterial  Design were commissioned to support the development and render the final design. The process took many years. They wanted to understand what the losses were and how best to represent them. Individual stories from community members were sourced to create a collective voice.

Water became a central image in the design. A simple concept of four teardrops falling onto the landscape provided the physical form, from which the community of Strathewen could begin to overlay their story of the event. Each circle carries its own theme of beauty, loss, rebuilding, hope and rejuvenation.  The Japanese style of Haiku poetry was referenced,  with minimal words and no punctuation, to focus on the essence of their experience.

Each circle describes a part of the community’s journey. The first references stories of Strathewen before the fire. The second tells the story of the event, documents the names of those lost and is inscribed with community-generated poetry. The third circle contains messages of thanks for the support that the community received during and after the fire. The final circle focuses on the future, with stories of renewal and recovery.

Location: Strathewen, Shire of Nillumbik, Victoria, Australia

Funding Body: Regional Arts Victoria – Arts Recovery Quick Response Grant

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