About the artwork
“Embers” is an underwater photographic interpretation of rejuvenation following this year’s disastrous bushfires and cries for cultural restoration and truth. Among native flora and flames photographed from the burning Australian landscape, Kirrily embodies the strength and wisdom passed down through the generations before her in this visual representation of cleansing. Beth would like to thank Aunty Denise Proud and Monique Proud for their insights and support throughout the creative process.
About the sitter
Kirrily Phillips is a proud Gumbaynggirr, Bundjalung and Dunghutti woman. From caring as mother to her family, to her role as a skilled professional educator in Indigenous Oral Health and well-being, Kirrily embodies the priority and practices of healing. Her life-flow actively enriches the community of Meanjin (Brisbane) where she and her family reside.
About the artist
Beth Mitchell is an underwater fine art photographer specialising in feminine, figurative work which explore the ever-widening technical boundaries of her photographic craft . Beth won the Music and Performing Arts Award in the 2019 Brisbane Portrait Prize. As truth calls for change and spirit yearns for awakening, Beth looked to First Nations People as strength of identity when creating this year’s entry “Embers”.
“For me, ’Embers’ echoes the cleansing by smouldering plants and smoke, cradled at the centre of this portrait, embodying the hope that this time in history will produce a cleansing and rejuvenation of land and humanity. ”
Behind the scenes
Meticulous planning, countless hours and detailed conceptual consideration was poured into the creation of Embers. From the flora native to Brisbane, to the Australian bushfire flames seen in both the Coolamon and on the burning branches. As makeup artist, Kylie Eustace prepared Kirrily (sitter) to be submerged, it was an inspiration and privilege to be culturally guided by First Nation women Monique and Denise Proud.
Extensive time went into all aspects of the digital portrait. In addition to photographing the sitter and visiting bushfire affected areas, the florals were individually photographed underwater. The work existed in hundreds of images. Fusing these elements together was crucial from both a technical and visually impactful perspective. For me, ’Embers’ echoes the cleansing by smouldering plants and smoke, cradled at the centre of this portrait, embodying the hope that this time in history will produce a cleansing and rejuvenation of land and humanity.