Artist journal - entropy - © Lloyd Godman
This on going series is based on the disastrous bush fire inferno that devastated the St Andrews Kinglake area of Victoria, Australia - Feb 2009
7th February 2009
Fortunately Tess and I are both well and the house and studios etc. missed the fire
The community around St Andrews area was the worst hit with many deaths and total devastation.
The good news is we live on the other side of the valley from the fire - we were away at the coast Wilsons Prom, running a workshop when it hit and we had the frustration of only finding out about it through neighbors mobile phone calls – so it was even more surreal. We drove home Sunday but now Monday there is a huge fire at Wilsons Prom and the while park has been evacuated.
On 24th Dec I engaged in my eighth Summer Solstice journey at St Andrews, as I spent the whole day in the bush observing the patterns of light and shadow passing through the forest floor it was obvious the forest was dry and hot, but little did I know the entropy that would unfold in a few weeks.
The week before the fire assault had seen 4 days in a row over 43 degrees in Melbourne – a new heat record - which is more like 46 degrees at St Andrews and also strong drying winds with no rain for over a month so the place was like an explosive time bomb.
The day of the fire was 46.7 in Melbourne a new record and about the same in St Andrews on our thermometer with a very strong north wind coming from the desert - something like a hot fan oven in over drive. From all this hot weather, it had been evident that infrastructure like trains, power etc. were struggling in the heat and is simply not designed to cope. If you look closely at the info about computers etc many manufactures say don't operate over 35 degrees.
The fire was about 50 KM away from St Andrews which had been started by a transformer fault, and then some embers blown on the wind started a fire a few valleys over from us which began heading towards our place – the neighbors were freaking out with phone calls telling us don't expect a house when you get back. And then the wind suddenly changed and blew in at about 120km so the fire turned and rushed up the valley to the top of the mountain at speeds of about 200km - the heat was so intense that houses and cars exploded before the flames reached them. From some angles the fire was so hot there was no real smoke - just flames and fire balls from vaporized eucalyptus oil in the leaves of the trees - So some people had no warning or chance of escape –
We had friends who heard the fire was 50 km away and decided to head for town with neighbors for dinner - by the time they reached the end of their road to turn onto the main road three fire balls exploded out of the sky in to the bush beside their car – when they rounded the next corner the trees on both sides of the road were on fire - they managed to get out but still do not know if their house is OK – their neighbors have lost everything.
Some people coming behind them who managed to get out on the same road they had to cross over 30 fallen trees blown over in the explosive fire balls.
Tess's best friend Norma evacuated but has lost her home and vineyard, also the devastation to the nature reserve on her land is total.
We have heard accounts of friends jumping into dams with blankets over them and surviving extreme heat.
One story about a guy who jumped inside a drain pipe that ran under the road and lay in the 2 inches of water rolling over and over – as the fire passed over there were pulses of flame sucked through the pipe from one end to the other so he kept rolling in the water and survived.
However, sadly we have had some friends who perished and many more who have lost everything.
The hill across from us look like a bomb site – and the huge trees at Kinglake on the top of the ridge look like black match stick skeletons on the skyline - the St Andrews market has been set up as a Police fire an army control Centrex –Many of the roads have trees down over them and as the clean up is on more keep falling over –
Some of the fires are still burning close to us - so we are still tense.
Looking at the destruction and loss gives us a new insight and respect to the people we know and love.
We are both thankful to be alive and have a many friends like you
Love Lloyd and Tess.
17 Feb 2009 - proof images - This was the first shoot where I used the Panorama format for this series. I had used this format of visual disjuncture for some of the work from the Last Rivers Song in 1983-84 - but these earlier images were also concerned with time in a more immediate way with the flow of the river. With the new work it became evident that issues of visual dis/order was a factor, and this is where the ideas of entropy resurfaced.
Last Rivers Song 1983-84
In some places the ground is still warm with the roots of trees just burnt out - Silvi and I drove up Baldspur rd to Kinglake and back down the Kinglake St Andrews Rd. Baldspur Rd allowed space to stop and photograph, while the Kinglake Rd, offered no allowance for this The deep grey ash that lay like freshly fallen snow, reminded me of the time I stood on top of Mt Ngauruhoe, an active volcano in New Zealand, in 1973 after an eruption when there was an inch of fresh ash covering the ground. The starkness of the landscape also brought back memories of an experience when I was in my 20s. A friend's farther operated a bakery and he needed the limestone tiles changes on the bed of the oven. As I was the scrawniest guy around I was nominated to crawl inside, pass out the old tiles - and reset the new tiles being passed through the door. The sensation of being entombed in the oven was alien. Although there was air to breath it felt vacuum like, devoid of life force, de-energized, there was a strange vaporized smell that permeated the space.
The vast area affected by the bush fire offered this same sensation, but magnified 1,000 fold. There was a tremendous sensation of vaporized energy,as though every atom of life had been consumed. Indeed I saw no form of life at all, except for a few remarkable grass trees that had already grown a few inches of new green growth. The smell of chard wood was only a faint fragrance among the pungent inescapable smell of ash. Although I had often experienced ash when emptying the fire, but this was heavier than anything I had imagined.
22 Feb 2009 - proof images second shoot - for this I drove up Rankins Rd, which runs off Baldspur Rd, by myself, late in the afternoon. Long shadows cut across the land - as black as the burnt trees, the two created a valued projection.As a link to the projections of light in the Carbon Obscura works, I was immediately drawn to them.
There had been no rain and thick ash still covered the ground. At one point I was confronted with a stack of fallen trees - piled like match sticks the scene was hard.
Much of the landscape has no leaves - despite the thunder of the fire like 1000 jet engines on the day of the fire, the silence, the stillness is deafening - even on a still day there is the vibration of life, but here there is nothing. disturbing - stop feel -
light projections -
After these first shoots, the coroner put a ban entry to the area to prevent the area where people might have died being disturbed - each death site was treated as a crime scene -
16 March 2009 - proof images - third shoot - During this week we had the first rain, which had begun to erode the surface away of the ash dust - It soon became evident that the same leaf litter, fallen trees and branches that had worked in such an effective manner in the St Andrew Summer Solstice that I had shot in late December 2008, just months before, had all been consumed in this bush just a few KM away. The only elements that remained was the burnt earth, the black trees and the dark shadows. So I looked to use the interplay of these as key elements in the triptychs.
St Andrews Summer Solstice December 2008
21 March 2009 - proof images - Tess's eldest son, Gabe had arrived a few days before and he accompanied me for this shoot.
28 March 2009 proof images Ned and Alan Clayton
31 March 2009 - proof images - bush on a walk between Kinglake and Ninks Rd - St Andrews
I was also getting a sense of how a much earlier series on titled Body Symbols - based on the elemental symbols earth, air, fire and water related to the fire and how what seemed like all organic matter had been destroyed in the fire -
|27 April 2009 - proof images - a walk between Brian and Di Gilkes studio at Ninks Rd and Baldspur Rd -b Some of the first signs of growth are beginning to show on the trucks and base of he trees - I can now see how this series will eventually link with the the Equivalence series from Wilsons Prom -
Equivalence XXI - Lloyd Godman - Mixed media - Pigmented print - charcoal drawing - 2006 - 330 x 483mm - Printed on Hahnemule 308 g/m paper with Epson Ultrachrome pigments From a series of images based on the 2005 fire at Wilson's Promontory Australia - © Lloyd Godman
6 May 2009 - proof images - a trip with Stefan, up Baldspur Rd, to Kinglake, then down Bowden Spur Rd.
25 May 2009 - proof images a walk from Ninks Rd up to Mt Jerusalem Rd, Kinglake and back down a different valley to Ninks Rd.
Above and left - Pharos Editions Studio photographed through the burned trees on Baldspur Rd. May 2009
But a few days after the fire, we have Brian and Di Gilkes staying in the studio flat - their house was destroyed but the studio of Pharos Editions survived so we have move them into the Baldessin Press.
Also Rae and Stewart Morgan who lost their house have moved into the cottage at the Baldessin Press
I rang Brian on the mobile just as I I took the photograph, and he can be seen on the left corner of the studio talking to me on the phone.
10 June 2009 - proof images
This was the first snow fall since the fire. I was supposed to be driving towards town, and from the radio reports I knew there was snow at Kinglake. I reached the main road and had to make a quick decision left to town or right to Kinglake. Off course Kinglake won. The snow was only there for a short time in the morning and I drove down BaldSpur Rd, then walked into the bush. It was very misty and very cold, but the black tree trunks created a stark sight against the white snow. There was greater evidence of the regrowth from the base of many trees
23 June 2009 - proof images
This session involved a walk from Kinglake down the valley to Steels Creek with my neighbor Herman Ritzinger. The cover of emerald green moss in the damp valleys was amazing.
15 August 2009 - proof images
16 September 2009- proof images
30 September 2009
20 October 2009
On this walk from the end of Ninks Rd up the valley on the left towards, Kinglake, it became obvious that the green moss was beginning to die off and change from emerald green to yellow. In some places there were small patches where the moss was dying.
25 November 2009
This session was shot on the hills that run towards Baldspur Rd from Brian and Di Gilks place off Ninks Road. The moss had died off to a brigh orange colour. This created a strong colour contrast.
Recently it occurred to me that both the content and structure of the triptychs remind me of Guernica by Pablo Picasso. While the human suffering is not explicit in the Entropy images, there is the reference to destruction and the juxtaposition of visual elements in the triptychs that suggests an association of time and space.
Ironically, as the bush is beginning to regenerate, a sense of visual chaos is returning. Where the burnt black trunk of trees and the dark shadows drew lines across a ground of grey ash, the complexity of green re growth and later dying red orange moss offered a different landscape to work with. As if the blank grey ash provided a space to find drawn shapes of black shadow that move with the sun and even darker tree remains. The shadows measured the epidermal nature of life an mortality.
At this point I began experimenting with placing the entropy triptychs on a larger black canvas. I envisioned this as an interactive work where the audience could navigate in steps to a triptych and then to a single image that would fill the sceen
20 January 2010
15 February 2010
24 February 2010
22 March 2010
16 April 2010
26 April 2010
6 July 2010
While at Brian and Di's Place I looked along the skyline and the burnt match sticks of tree trunks told a story of their growth
Skyline of hills from Ninks Rd - the image is mapped into seven sections - click on section to enlarge
The image show taller trees on the south side of each hill which is cooler and wetter- and shorter trees on the north side of each hill. This pattern is visible for each incline.
• Chuck Close
• Georges Braque
• Gerhard Richter
• Imants Tillers
• Jasper Johns
• Mark Rothko
• Pablo Picasso
• Piet Mondrian
• Christian Boltanski