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Artists Use Charcoal from Australia Bushfires in ‘Embers of Empathy'


GPY&R and Australian Red Cross raise awareness with unique artworks

Artists Use Charcoal from Australia Bushfires in ‘Embers of Empathy'

Artworks created from a collaboration between Australian Red Cross, GPY&R Sydney and 12 of Australia’s leading and emerging artists to raise awareness about the impact of bushfires on the nation will be unveiled this week. The new campaign, ‘Embers of Empathy’, utilises charcoal from the 2013 bushfires in the Blue Mountains to create unique artworks that convey an emotive bushfire story, inspiring lessons for the future. 

Said GPY&R Sydney Creative Directors David Joubert and Bart Pawlak, "The Embers of Empathy idea came, as many of them do, from a conversation in the Creative Department. It was October/November and the bushfire tragedy in the Blue Mountains was spilt across the newspapers. We were thinking of all the families who had their entire lives turned to ash. Then our artistic sensibilities kicked in and we realised how much the charred fragments from the fires resembled artists’ charcoal. It immediately dawned on us that we could turn these symbols of tragedy into instruments of hope."

The group of artists who have donated their time and talent to the initiative range from young, emerging talent to award winning established names, including Nicholas Harding, Paul Ryan, Anne Judell, Suzanne Archer, Sophie Cape and Ron McBurnie. The original artworks created using the charcoal, either solely or in combination with other mediums, will be unveiled at an exclusive event in Sydney on Thursday, 10th April. The collection will be sold through a silent auction to raise funds for Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery.

Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner hopes the collection will also raise awareness of disaster prevention for the future.

“The funds raised from the sale of the Embers of Empathy art collection will help us continue to train staff, aid workers and volunteers to be ready to respond as soon as disaster strikes, minimising loss of life, protecting household assets, providing psychological support and reconnecting families and loved ones,” said Robert Tickner.

One of the prominent artists chosen in partnership with the Olsen Irwin gallery to participate in the project is Archibald Prize award-winner, Paul Ryan. 

“My immediate thought was to work with someone directly affected by the bushfires to create a portrait of them, standing in the very place where they lost their home; which is how I met Jocelyn, the subject of my artwork,” Ryan comments. 

“Meeting Jocelyn and learning about her loss, her drive to rebuild her home and her passion for the supportive community she lives in was inspiring. It provided a strong, human story that enabled me to create a really interesting work of art, which has even more significance as it uses the charcoal collected from Jocelyn’s own back yard.”

The Embers of Empathy collection will be unveiled at The Paramount Building, Surry Hills on Thursday 10th April, 2014. To view or bid on an artwork, please visit

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Categories: Charity, Corporate, Social and PSAs, Mon, 07 Apr 2014 09:54:17 GMT