Although it may now seem like a distant memory, it was mere months ago that Australia was facing a different crisis to the pandemic of today. A crisis that stole lives, cast animals and people from their homes and ravaged our beautiful country. This was the 2019 bushfire season: a time of living hell down under.
As always, when confronted with the great suffering of others, many people were racked by the same powerful questions of empathy and kindness: What can I do? How can I help? Many of us have little money to give, limited experience to share and an overwhelming sense of helplessness at our distance from those who need help. But it is in times of uncertainty and doubt that we find a surprising capacity to do what we can with the skills we have.
It was this common growing sense of empathy and desire that inspired a group of Australian creators to do something with the skills they had on hand. This group of people is known as The Illustration Club, a Perth-based art group established in 2019 by members with strong connections to Curtin University (many of their founders being former and current students). The club put out a call to the art community with a simple but inspiring idea: “let’s use our talents to make a difference”.
FROM ASHES is a charity zine filled with the comics, artwork and writing of over thirty Australian creators. Its seventy pages are bathed in red, black and grey hues: the colours of our burning land and the smoke that choked our skies. But the tone of each work is anything but hopeless; as its title suggests, FROM ASHES is not merely a commemoration of what was lost, but a reminder of what will be in the future. Each piece speaks in a different voice; some comforting, some hilarious, some loud and vibrant, some informative and gentle, but every voice shares the same message – we have suffered, but we will recover. Through the power of human kindness and shared support, we will see a better tomorrow.
Below are just two of the beautiful works within the zine, and the inspiration behind each in the words of its creator:
“The bushfires directly impacted Australia’s native ecosystem, but the natural beauty and life of the land is resilient and can be restored, and we can all help together to build that up. I wanted to convey a message of hope and the coming together of people in the community by presenting hands working to restore a vase of native flowers; arranging and cutting off burnt bits to restore the plants.”
“Featuring several iconic Australian animals, this piece aims to focus on a more positive outlook for our resilient wildlife after the fires. A simple graphical style with a short caption can convey this message easily to a broad audience at first glance. It’s a poignant message in the context of the fires, but also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving the national wildlife.”
FROM ASHES is currently available for just $10 as a digital book. All proceeds from the zine will be donated to GIVIT, an Australian-run not-for-profit who provides for those who need it most, like families displaced by the fires.
In these times of self-isolation, this is the perfect book to remind us all of the bright future that lies just beyond the darkness of today.