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Harley Kewish
Ecological destruction of epic proportions

Harley is from Sale, currently studying Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting Major at RMIT Melbourne

Since the summer bushfires, I’ve been dedicating my practice to the ecological destruction that the event wrought. Having spent most of my time during the fires working in Bairnsdale, time to create was scarce – I think the only projects I worked on all summer were the graphic design for Gippsland Horse and Stock Safe and selling prints of my 2019 artworks to raise money for the CFA and GERF public funds. So, I want to portray the chronic distress and communal frustration that accompanied the fires spilled into my studies at RMIT in Melbourne. Though the studio in Melbourne was tight, with studies moving online, I was able to move to Sale for the time being and expand my practice in Gippsland.


These times are definitely strange. We are nearly half-way through 2020 and yet it feels like substantially, nothing has really happened due to how soon after the fires, we were put into another state of emergency. I think I was in Melbourne for six weeks before lockdown was announced, and I decided to spend lockdown in Sale.

Despite moving my studies online (and ergo the interaction with and inspiration from other students is less than if the outbreak had not happened), I still find that my practice is evolving from piece to piece. Where I started my studies at University last year with no experience using a palette knife and gradually moved to exclusively using the tool, this year I have moved further to marrying my experiences with brush and palette knife techniques.


These works here are the start of a 14-piece project that I’ve been working on in response to the bushfires – I’m finding that by working from home rather than at university, I can focus on my practice much like a standard 9-5 job, without the worry of so much time being wasted on travel to and from my work. It is keeping me incredibly busy, and I haven’t had a day of isolation yet where I’m struggling to find something to do.

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