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Jill Hermans

Found amongst flames

Clifton Creek, East Gippsland, April 2020

I have been considering my connection to the natural world through my personal relationship with the surrounding leaves. This comes from last years exhibition and collaboration with Jes John in ‘The Space Between’ where we launched Nature Hooks (where the wearer becomes the artist in collaboration with nature - by finding a leaf to hook on to our earrings) because of this project my eyes and heart have been open to the beautiful leaves that surround us everyday. 

Things started to feel uneasy on our 90 acre bush block in November, after such a dry year and no flow at all in the Nicholson River. Leaves were crispy and crackling and shimmering all around us. To bush walk was to crunch because of the year of little rain, the crunch was thick, leaves became ‘fuel’. The lightning strikes on the 21st of November flipped an unfortunate switch in my mind and all those beautiful leaves suddenly became the enemy. We had all of December to prepare for the fire we knew was coming, and in that time a war on leaves ensued. Raking, raking, raking… carting away huge amounts of dry leaves, massive trailer-fulls of shrubs, branches and endless leaves. Stringy bark, iron bark and round leaf box. What once stopped me with its beauty was now raked up without notice. No longer essential oxygen givers, but now 'fuel load’.

I suppose in some ways they did become beautiful again because, on the night of the 30th of December, I do remember looking up into the night sky and thinking how absolutely breathtakingly beautiful all those sparkling leaf embers were. A glittering twinkling swirling orange. 

Then there was the utter devastation and heart wrench behind the absolute loss of all those leaves. The most painful sound the day after was the magnificent big hollow bearing ironbark trees crashing to the ground, this continued for days and weeks after the event. Some places on our property there are no leaves left in the tree crowns, an indication of how hot it got. 

2020 has been a wild ride so far. But I am now currently very much enjoying being at home with time to watch our bushland slowly recover. The epicormic growth is truly a joy to watch, with all the different shades of green growth upon a contrasting black backdrop is spectacular.

I have included, amongst the leaves, some images of Brooches made for the recent group exhibition I was in ‘Beyond Charred’. My practice has always been based on metal reactions to heat and flame.  

When our property was engulfed with flame many reactions and interactions took place. Fire enveloped many metal surfaces and even though I wasn’t directly involved in these interactions (being rather distracted by putting out flame at the time) I am fascinated by the varied and quite beautiful outcomes.


These particular Brooches are made from a piece of aluminium hot water service. I was captivated by how one small strip of material could hold such a fascinating array of swirling colours. Finding beauty amongst the devastated and destroyed certainly helped my healing process. Also the pattern and repetition of simple pleasing forms was very much a comfort mechanism. Seeking shelter and reassurance in simple and familiar tasks and pleasing curved shapes allowed me to settle my mind into our new reality.


Found Amongst Flames

Found aluminium from hot water service, shibuichi, stainless brooch wire

Large brooches $260

Med brooches $190

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