Up from the Vaults: All Fired Up

05 Sep 2019

A look back at how bushfires shaped Victoria

For better or worse, fire plays an inexorable role in the Australian bush; shaping the land and the people that live on it. Presented by Dr Thomas Duff as part of our Up from the Vaults series, this talk explores the way in which fire has imprinted itself on our landscapes over time.

According to Thomas, a key part of understanding the nature of fires is to look at how they shaped the past. In this hour-long presentation he’ll take a closer look at fire in Victoria’s landscapes during the 1800s and early 1900s – as depicted through art – and draw insights into the state of the environment and the perspectives of the people at the time.

The session will discuss the presence of fire in four significant artworks: William Strutt’s Race for life, Black Thursday (c. 1863), Eugene von Guérard’s Forest, Cape Otway Ranges (1867), Tom Roberts’ A road at Sherbrooke (1920) and Harold Herbert’s Untitled (Fire swept) (1940).

Dr Thomas Duff is a Research Fellow, Bushfire Behaviour and Management from the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne. His interest in Australian landscapes was sparked during a prior career as a forester working in rural Victoria and his current study focuses on the patterns and processes behind forest fires.  He is currently investigating how vegetation and weather combine to influence the ways that fires behave and their resultant effects on ecosystem function.