The Museum of Fire recently opened our newest exhibition, an art gallery space featuring 30 artworks by primary school-aged children from across Australia. The competition was set to the theme of bushfires, paying tribute to the firefighters who bravely faced the flames to keep us safe during the devastating Summer of 2019/2020.
Each child interpreted this theme differently, reflecting on their own experience of the horrific bushfire season. The artworks submitted were phenomenal, and the Museum’s staff were blown away by the high-calibre entries which showcased the experiences (and of course, the artistic flair) of the budding artists. Of over 100 artworks, just 30 were shortlisted for display. A panel of judges then voted on the major prizes before Christmas, and the public were invited to vote for the People’s Choice Award. Voting at the Museum closed on Friday 15 January, and prior to that voting was opened to a wider, digital audience for one week. In that time, the Museum received over 1,500 digital votes. To say we are impressed is an understatement.
On Thursday 21 January, we were delighted to invite the shortlisted artists and their families to the inaugural awards ceremony celebrating their work. At this ceremony, the People’s Choice Award, as well as all other major prizes, and a special award personally chosen by Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Paul Baxter were announced. FRNSW were a major sponsor of the Museum’s Art Competition and we were very fortunate to have Commissioner Paul Baxter and Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell in attendance on the day.
We are proud to provide the details of the winners below:
First Prize – Danelia Samuel (Year 6) with Fiery Night.
Artwork description: “My artwork represents a bushfire, and firefighters as our light of hope. They continue to fight against the fiery fire throughout the night, creating waves of fire, wind, and water. (Inspired by “Starry Night”)”.
For her work, Danelia received a Museum voucher, a perpetual trophy (as well as a personal trophy to keep) and an art prize. Her artwork will become part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
Second Prize and Special CEO Award – Samuel Burkhart (Year 4) with Smoke in the Sunset.
Artwork description: “The sun setting over the burnt trees of Australia’s Black Summer”.
The award included a Museum voucher, a personal trophy, and an art prize. Samuel’s artwork also received a Special CEO’s Award and will become part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
FRNSW Commissioner’s Choice Award – Bryson Samuel (Year 4) with Firefight.
Artwork description: “My aboriginal artwork is about when the firefighters use water to fight against the raging fire”.
Bryson’s work will be displayed at the Emergency Services Academy and he will receive a personal tour of his local fire station (when COVID restrictions allow), as well as a special FRNSW plaque.
People’s Choice Award – Aliyah Simpson (Year 4) with Ember Attack.
Artist description: “My painting is a recreation of an image of the 2019-2020 fire season. This painting is dedicated to my Dad and all his fellow firefighters”.
Aliyah received a Museum voucher, a personal trophy, and an art prize as part of her award.
Highly Commended K-2 Years – Deklan Bryks (Year 2) with Bush Regeneration After the Fires.
Artwork description: “This is the bush where our art lessons are each week. We had an easel and did en plein air. We used charcoal to draw the landscape and then paint to add colour and texture. Our painting is about bush regeneration after a BUSHFIRE. We were inspired by an Australian Artist, Will Robinson and his landscapes.
Highly Commended Year 3 – Jasmine Mutani (Year 3) with Australian Bushfire.
Artwork description: “Bushes getting burnt”.
Highly Commended Year 4 – Elsie Brown (Year 4) with Save the Koalas.
Artwork description: “To save the koalas from last summer’s bushfire and so they don’t become extinct”.
Highly Commended Year 5 and Special Curator's Award – Charlotte Whitford (Year 5) with Fire Fighters to the Rescue.
Artwork description: “There has been a big bushfire and the firefighters have come to the rescue. One has run over to save the koala and the other has started the hose up to put out the fire. In the background the kangaroos are trying to escape the fire”.
Charlotte’s artwork also received a Special Curator’s Award and will become part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
Highly Commended Year 6 – Amelia Williams (Year 6) with Forest of Fire.
Artwork description: “Well, I based my entry on the 2019-2020 bushfires that swept across New South Wales, destroying everything in its path”.
Special Curator’s Award – Zoe Masters (Year 5) with Hero.
Artwork description: “My artwork was inspired by the images of the bushfires in the news. The devastating effect on the wildlife changed me and brought me to making this artwork. My artwork shows a firefighter saving a koala from a fire”.
This work will become part of the Museum’s permanent collection.
We believe it is important to provide the next generation with opportunities to share their creativity and to also introduce them to the world of museums. It is for this reason that we are pleased to announce the return of the competition in 2021. Keeping with the theme of reflecting on the previous year, our theme for 2021 will be “resilience”. More details will be announced in the coming months, but we look forward to receiving entries which champion the resilience of our frontline workers, including firefighters.
-Story by Museum of Fire Curatorial Team