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Australia's Black Summer warning

Australian photographer Matthew Abbott was among the closest witnesses to the bushfires that devastated Australia during the summer of 2019–20.

The apocalyptic scenes he captured — towns glowing with flames, homes collapsing, dead wildlife and the immense firefighting effort — propelled the fires onto the front pages of newspapers around the world.

Abbott worked in trying conditions, battling illness and fatigue. The daily dose of toxic smoke left him with a lung infection.

Capturing Change

Abbott’s work amid the fires has been documented in Chris Phillips’s documentary Capturing Change, which was supported by the Judith Neilson Institute.

The film follows Abbott across the fire grounds and through the communities affected by the blazes. There are also moments of observation and quiet reflection about the broader impact of the fires on the national and the climate.

The documentary was screened at the State Library of New South Wales, as part of the World Press Photo exhibition, and was aired Al Jazeera’s witness program in November 2021.

Australia’s Black Summer warning

About the project

The Institute provided funding for the production of Chris Phillips's documentary Capturing Change. The film follows Australian photographer Matthew Abbott during the devastating 2019–20 Australian bushfires.