People’s Choice bushfire photo announced as Black Summer & Beyond book gets green light

The acclaimed and highly successful Black Summer & Beyond exhibition of community photos of the bushfires and recovery has announced the winner of its People’s Choice award as well as plans to publish a book of the images.

After completing the first chapter of its tour through installations at Willawarrin, Bellbrook and Sherwood, the travelling exhibition has now moved on to South West Rocks after having been seen by thousands of visitors and with more than 600 votes cast to determine the popular champion.

Kempsey Shire Council’s Recovery Team announced on Thursday that Adam Dederer’s iconic image She’s coming straight for us has been named the People’s Choice for the Black Summer and Beyond exhibition.

Adam’s image was a genuine favourite among audiences having collected almost a quarter of all votes. He will be awarded a $250 cheque and an Akubra hat.

Highly Commended photos were also announced, with five more images having received a substantial vote, including another of Adam’s images. The photos that received commendations were:

  • Kay Bridge, Another Explosion
  • Adam Dederer, Ferocity
  • Tione Hawkins, Life goes on
  • Sally Argue, Two days on, a new reality
  • Chelsea Hall, Long night ahead

Their photos hang alongside Rebecca Gale’s Strength and Resilience which won the judge”s award at the opening of the exhibition.

Council’s Recovery Coordinator Jo McGoldrick said that the exhibition had exceeded all expectations, especially in terms of the quality of the images.

“Adam’s photo was singled out for mention by the official judges on our opening day because even they couldn’t just select one image out of all these extraordinary photos,” said Mrs McGoldrick.

“We hoped that this exhibition would bring the community together and appropriately mark the anniversary of the worst days of the Black Summer fires in Kempsey. What we got was a huge selection of images that have simultaneously broken hearts and lifted spirits. Not only have the community been incredibly generous with their photos but they have also been unbelievably open with their stories. This exhibition is quite literally unforgettable.””

Council has begun work to compile the Black Summer & Beyond exhibition into a commemorative book. Images from the travelling exhibition along with first-hand accounts from those who faced the fires and supported response and recovery efforts are set to be included.

“We are hoping to have the book ready for publication in 2021, however we need to ensure that our primary focus remains on the day to day work of recovery with the community grants, resilience preparation and infrastructure all important in the year to come,” said Mrs McGoldrick.

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