Charcoal Mountain

    Sam Beckman


The photographs in this series contemplate a fundamental element of living with the Australian bush: the prospect of fire. These images are from close to our home on the slopes of kunanyi/Mount Wellington, part of a huge area that last burnt over 50 years ago resulting in many lives and homes lost. With major fires across the state over the last few years, as well as a shockingly long and intense 2019-2020 fire season in many other parts of the country, our shared bushfire future feels all the more uncertain.

To take these photographs, I kept the shutter open longer than normal while moving through the bush. It felt as though, by embracing the movement and taking those extra moments to observe each scene, an underlying truth was revealed. Appearing almost like agitated rubbings of the forest itself, the charcoal-like smears and smudges are a recognition of a landscape that has burnt in the past, and will burn again.

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