The Red Balloon
An intense heat wave, 100km/h wind speeds and extreme temperatures in the high 40 degree Celcius took their toll on an area already in the grip of a decade-long drought. 173 people lost their lives in the devastating bushfires that ravaged 51 townships. Over 5,000 homes, schools and businesses were destroyed. Up to 400 fires were recorded on that Saturday, a day now known as Black Saturday.
As the dying embers turned to ash, photographer Billy Law visited the affected areas between Marysville and Kinglake, equipped with a camera, a helium gas tank and a bag of red balloons. Over 5 days, Billy witnessed first-hand the extent of the bushfire damage. He also spent time with locals, finding the people behind the ashes, listening to their stories, and inspired by their bravery in the distress situation.
By reviving the charcoal and desolate landscapes with a single red balloon. The red balloon is a poignant symbol of dreams, hope and courage. “I want this collection of medium format photographs capture the impact of the tragedy, and also convey the overriding sense of hope amidst the scenes of blackened ruin.” This photographic exhibition is a tribute to those who lost their lives in the bushfires.
Not many people have seen this body of work, a collaboration between myself and Anna Warr. The current bushfire around NSW has reminded me so much of the devastation that I witnessed when I documented the bushfire in Kinglake, Victoria back in 2009, also known as the Black Saturday.
My thought goes out to those who are affected, and thank you to all the firefighters out there for their immense effort and bravery.