A view of Callala Bay (Jerrinja and Wandi Wandian Country), Australia, painted with coloured ink by the photographer. 
2024 Photo Contest, Southeast Asia and Oceania, Open Format

A Lost Place


Aletheia Casey

02 January, 2020

A view of Callala Bay (Jerrinja and Wandi Wandian Country), Australia, painted with coloured ink by the photographer. 

This project is a poignant and thoughtful meditation on the wildfires in the photographer’s home country of Australia that connects its colonial past with its precarious climate future. Through a series of manipulated, composited, and recontextualized images, Aletheia Casey grapples with the environmental and personal impact of the 2019-2020 wildfires in New South Wales, which were among the largest ever recorded in the country. As these fires grow in frequency and severity due to escalating global temperatures, the project raises the question of how colonialism and climate change may be linked.

Using a variety of methods, the photographer infuses emotional depth into her landscapes. Some images bear the marks of paint or ink applied directly onto the surface; in others, the paint is scratched away to reveal underlying layers. These altered landscapes serve as potent visual metaphors for both the external devastation wrought by the wildfires and the artist’s internal turmoil.

In other instances, Casey juxtaposes these altered landscapes with images of either indigenous animals native to the region, or animals that were introduced to Australia and become pests, often sourced from museum archives in the UK. These juxtapositions point towards the often overlooked historical links between 19th century biology, scientific exhibitions, and colonial logic, underscoring the interconnections between current ecological disasters and Australia's colonial history. By highlighting the country's scientific-rationalist approach to nature, characterized by the relentless pursuit of control and dominance, the project prompts viewers to confront the enduring legacy of colonialism and its role in exacerbating the environmental challenges facing Australia today.

The artist respectfully acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation who are and always will be the traditional custodians and first people of the land on which these images were made.

With thanks to The Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL Culture, London, United Kingdom.


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Aletheia Casey
About the photographer

Aletheia Casey is an Australian photographic artist based in London, UK. Her work is concerned with environmental issues and post-colonial legacy, alongside personal themes around family and the notion of home.  Aletheia Casey’s work has been published in The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Finan...

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Jury comment

This project pays a striking homage to the photographer’s home. The consistent edit and artistic method weaves an innovative narrative on the climate crisis from a deeply personal angle. The sequence of bold colors beautifully portrays different aspects of the landscape and ecosystem, and conveys the photographer's personal connection to the land.