Fighting Fire with FireJohn Donegan26th Feb - 15th March 2014 | Stanley Street Gallery

Fighting Fire with Fire
John Donegan

26th Feb – 15th March 2014
John Donegan - Fighting Fire with Fire

John Donegan - Fighting Fire with Fire


The Blue Mountains were engulfed by bushfires on Thursday, 17th October 2013 with hundreds of homes destroyed.  The fires continued to burn for a week and conditions only intensified after the homes were lost, with Wednesday the 23rd predicted to be catastrophic.  The Rural Fire Service commanders undertook a high risk strategy to fight fire with fire in the cool of the night on the Tuesday.

A handful of volunteers were at the front line of this strategy, working through the darkness illuminated only by the flames they were fighting.  Conditions on the Wednesday proved to be as bad as expected but the vigilance of a band of volunteers kept the fires somewhat under control.

At about 5:00PM the Rural Fire Service downgraded the threat from 'emergency' and the Warrimoo RFS crew, who had been protecting Norman Lindsay House in Faulconbridge, took a cricket bat, owned by the Valley Heights RFS, from their truck and relaxed with an impromptu game of cricket.

John Donegan spent the week with crews who were protecting the Faulconbridge area, and recorded this portrait of the volunteers in the heat of the battle.


About John Donegan

John Donegan sold his first photograph to a suburban newspaper as a 14 year old in Mel- bourne. This passing moment borne from happenstance has led to a lifetime chronicling the best and worst of mankind, revolutions, politics, cultural and sporting events, and daily life in over 15 countries around the world, and across the length and breadth of mainland Australia.

He was inspired as a child to observe the minutiae of suburban life after discovering paint- ings like John Brack’s Collins St 5PM, Jeffrey Smart’s Cahill Expressway, and The Cricketers by Russell Drysdale. This desire to find beauty in the drudgery of daily life was strengthened reading Australian authors including David Malouf, George Johnston and Tim Winton whose ability to turn a tram journey, a bike ride or a swim into something magical was an inspira- tion.

John grew up in suburban Melbourne and now lives in Sydney with his wife Kate and their children Ruby, Sadie and Jack. The journey from Melbourne to Sydney has been a bit longer than the 900km of the Hume Hwy and has meandered through residences in London, Jerusa- lem and Darwin.

John is now intrigued by the art of portrait photography and enjoys using photography to celebrate the individual, although he is discovering that the perfect portrait is as elusive as the subject is unique.

John is currently reporting for 702 ABC Sydney as a multi-media journalist, he is a former member of the Walkley Advisory Board and supports the HeadOn Photo Festival as a selec- tion panellist, portfolio reviewer and judge.