My Bushfire Dress

Stitched by: Julie Conway

Pattern designed by: Julie Conway

In January 2020, I too was was reeling from the impact of bushfires. For me, it was the knowledge that for the first time in my lifetime (6 decades) a special place from my childhood – the rainforest in South-East Queensland was burning. This had meant plans for driving from Brisbane to Armidale, NSW for family Christmas were derailed because Cunningham’s Gap Highway was closed due to fire risk. In response, I made myself a life buoy badge reading “Australia from Nero to Zero”.

I came back to Adelaide in time for the Kangaroo Island fire. It felt choking here in Adelaide. Then a friend who saw my badge suggested I might enjoying seeing an embroidery exhibition on 12 February called Drastic Fabric by textile artist Sera Waters. I knew that this was my kind of show and I thought to honour the images I had seen on the invitation. I decided to embroider an op shop dress I had found months before in Melbourne. In 10 days I asked friends for words that evoked the bushfire seasons we had endured and I chain stitched them onto my dress. I see it as a work in progress. I added Fraser Islander World Heritage on fire this Christmas. I was honoured when Khadija Gbla asked me if she could wear the dress at WOMAD when she was asked to read the IPPC report. I said I was honoured!

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