On fire
  • Jemima Wyman, 'Haze...', 2020, 124.5 x 183 cm, handcut digital photo collage. Courtesy of the artist, Milani Gallery, Brisbane, and Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney.

  • Judy Watson, 'spot fires, our country is burning now' (detail), 2020, acrylic, pastel, graphite on canvas, 194 x 181 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

  • Michael Candy, 'Cryptid' (detail), 2019, robotic light sculpture, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Bugelli Gallery, Hobart. Photo: Tom Mesic.

  • Dale Harding, 'Untitled (still)', 2020–21, two channel digital video, Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

  • Kinly Grey, 'expanding bodies', 2019, installation view ‘Intimate Immensity’, Outer Space, Brisbane. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Charlie Hillhouse.

  • Anne Wallace, 'Fire in the Hills', 2019, oil on linen, 61.4 x 92 cm. Collection of Philip Leeson and Lee Erickson, Canberra. Courtesy of the artist and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney.


On fire

climate and crisis

30 January–20 March 202130 Jan–20 Mar 2021


On fire: climate and crisis profiles contemporary Queensland art in a time of significant ecological change. It situates this analysis during the emergence of what fire historian Stephen Pyne describes as the Pyrocene—the fire equivalent of an ice age, with Australia as one of its major epicentres.

One year on from Black Summer, the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season, the work of thirteen emerging, established, and posthumous artistic voices are presented here to frame an understanding of this theory of a new, incendiary era, and engage with closely related themes of global warming and climate threat in this state.

Queensland is synonymous with its climate, its identity and culture frequently foregrounded by it. This has previously been described ambivalently: part extreme, sweat-inducing, clime, yet also idyllic, even benign, paradise. This exhibition pronounces instead a changing image: of increasingly precarious conditions within the Pyrocene.

On fire: climate and crisis looks to the past, present, and future terrain of this situation – considering the damaging legacies of colonialism, how artists visualise experiences of connection and disconnection with the environment, and fire’s capacity for rejuvenation in keeping with the burgeoning Indigenous cultural fire movement.


Gordon Bennett, Naomi Blacklock, Paul Bong, Hannah Brontë, Michael Candy, Kinly Grey, Dale Harding, Erika Scott, Madonna Staunton, Anne Wallace, Judy Watson, Warraba Weatherall, and Jemima Wyman

Curated By
  • Tim Riley Walsh
Curator Bio

Tim Riley Walsh is a curator, writer, Australia Desk Editor for ArtAsiaPacific, Hong Kong, and a Post-Thesis Fellow within the School of Communication and Arts, University of Queensland. Tim is the Co-Editor of Gordon Bennett: Selected Writings (forthcoming, Power Publications, Sydney, and Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane) and has written widely for ArtAsiaPacific, Frieze, Art Monthly Australasia, Art + Australia, Eyeline, Apollo, Runway, and Artlink. Tim has previously worked in gallery management, communications, and programming roles at Milani Gallery, Brisbane; Camden Arts Centre, London; and the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. In 2018, Tim curated the group exhibition Future Proof at Boxcopy, Brisbane.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands where the IMA now stands. We pay our respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.