Mark of recovery
Mark of recovery
Video by Malcolm McKinnon
Contact Malcolm McKinnonCopyright
The small town of Flowerdale, about 80 kms north-east of Melbourne, was decimated by the bushfires that swept through much of Victoria on 7 February 2009.
In undertaking the long process of rebuilding and recovery at least eighty Flowerdale residents have been tattooed with the same image of renewal, a blackened tree with one new, green leaf. Here, Flowerdale locals Odette Hunter and Josie Cubley and tattoo artist Olivia Brumen relate this unlikely story of community healing.
-When something unspeakable happens, there aren't words. And I guess that's why the image initially was so strong and very powerful. Because it certainly showed that blackness that we felt. But then that lovely green leaf that symbolized getting up and regrowing and doing what needed to be done at such a devastatingly sad time.
-I had never heard of [INAUDIBLE]. And when the [INAUDIBLE] actually happened, I was not even in Australia. And we came back maybe a week later. And the smell of smoke, getting off the plane, it was like bush fire smoke at the airport. The whole place was just so misty. And from that day forth, it always affected me.
And then meeting [INAUDIBLE], she was the person that just made it all such a reality. Like there's a person standing in front of me who has survived this. And I suppose that's why I wanted to help her out and everybody else in Flowerdale.
-I had no idea it would be this many. Odette organized bus loads of people to come. So it would be like 12 people one week, 10 people the next week. And it would just be like every week, just tattooing more and more people.
-It certainly wasn't a project. It just happened organically. And clearly other people wanted their tattoo for all sorts of other reasons, probably. But for me, it was just a reminder and why I chose my arm was just so I could see it every day and just to be reminded how lucky I am.
To be reminded of the friends that I don't get to see anymore. And again, just because it was all about Flowerdale.
-The tattoo means such a lot. And I've never had a tattoo in my life. But I liked the idea of it, being a part of the community. And the rebirth after the devastation. And I'm terrified of needles, but I thought, I'm going to have one. And I'm just proud to be wearing this and it means life again.
-I guess now I've grown to love the black and the green. And when you live in this regrowth, you try and turn it into something positive and something strong and beautiful that will stay with you.