Canberra artist Geoff Filmer hopes that when people walk past his new mural it creates a conversation.
With images of a firefighter who faced the flames, the people - while wearing P2 masks - who were evacuated from their properties and some of the flora and fauna that have been lost in the devastation, the mural is not only a way to say thank you to the firies, but also aims to encourage donations to help deal with the aftermath.
"The purpose was to have it in people's conscious," Filmer says.
"But of course, we couldn't then make it scary. You don't want it to be a trigger situation and make people feel uncomfortable."
Filmer - and the Canberra Centre which approached the artist to paint the mural on the Centrepoint building - instead wanted to focus on the strength of the community. He tried to evoke this through the orange and yellow rays filling the background of the piece that was inspired by Russian propaganda-style posters and the Australian Army's rising sun badge and the empowerment those images are associated with.
The artist also wanted to ensure the firefighter - who is front and centre of the piece - wasn't pictured actively fighting a fire and that they were non-descript so the figure represented all of those who fought the fires.
He, arguably more than many others, knows the diverse range of people who take on bushfires in times such as these.
Filmer was 13 when he fought his first fire and from there he became involved in the volunteer fire service. In 2000 he also worked in bushfire management, which saw him fight the 2001 fire that burnt out the arboretum.
"Then in 2003, I was in Tidbinbilla protecting a house when the firestorm started and got caught up in that," he says.
"Part of the reason I wanted to do the mural was that the amount of post-traumatic stress that comes from being a volunteer firefighter is huge. Especially after what's gone on now where those people were standing there with their 1000 litres of water on the back of a truck, looking at eucalypts that were 30 metres high with a flame height above those.
"The ability to do anything when faced with that is near to nothing. You just need to stand there and take it.
"I know a lot of people after the fact can be like 'I should have done this, I should have been there' and start double-guessing themselves, which is human but it does weigh on a lot of people."
Filmer hopes that as time passes, the community doesn't forget about supporting these people, as well as the wildlife. Hopefully, the mural goes some way in doing this.
"It's the conversations that happen at the wall. When I was painting this I had a lady who had lost her house down on the South Coast - people who have real stories - and they come up and they're talking to you," he says.
"I'm really pleased that the overall energy of the piece has been one of positivity, not negativity.
"It's going to take a lot of effort to get back to an even keel for a lot of these people who have been affected up and down the coast. And to the other side [of New South Wales].
"We used to go to Wolgal Hut up in Selwyn every year since the kids were little. Now to think that it's burnt to the ground and possibly won't be rebuilt, that's a really sad thing to be lost for future generations but also for the people who care about them deeply."
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