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Chanel Irvine

Updated: May 29, 2020

Please elaborate on your quarantine work.

These photographs are from my project ‘Time and Tide’ (2020). Over five weeks in three different states of Australia, I witnessed first-hand the severity of the drought and the aftermath of some of the record-breaking bushfires.

I also spent time in places where the land had not yet been affected by the fires, though the morale of the people there certainly had. With this series of images, I hoped to contrast the visible devastation of the bushfires and the drought with scenes of a seemingly unaffected seaside summer, to offer a picture of the state of the world today; where many people are living in some form of environmental, political, social or health disaster, and others remain safe and sheltered – for now.

I think it’s particularly important now, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, for people to realise how quickly things can change and how at mercy to nature we really are.

At the same time, it’s crazy to think that suddenly this heartbreaking crisis has become “irrelevant” because of the scale of Coronavirus.

33 people were killed – including four firefighters – more than 11 million hectares of bush, forest and parks burned and 1 billion animals are estimated dead. On the 1st of January, the air quality index in Canberra – at 4,091 - ranked the worst in the world, 20 times higher than the hazardous level, with smoke later reaching as far as New Zealand and South America. That is terrifying, and yet now all we hear about is Covid-19.... I hoped that the images could pose as some sort of warning against future fire outbreaks and the realities of climate change, and I wanted them to illustrate much we have to be grateful for in the first place. How much we stand to lose. But maybe Covid-19 will help people realise that in a different way.

Where would you rather be in quarantine?

Somewhere by the sea, where I could swim every day... No matter what’s going on in my life, being submerged in a body of water seems to fix EVERYTHING. If I could somehow be at this magical location with all of my favourite humans that would be PERFECT.

What is the weirdest meal you’ve had during quarantine?

A whole box of Pringles with red wine (I’ve been really lucky living with my parents, as otherwise we’ve had really great meals every day).

What were you curious about today?

If anyone actually knows what they really want to do with their life (feeling somewhat existential) ....