Remembering Bushfires From the Water’s Edge

Author: Amanda Rowland

SIGNWAVE helps the Australian National Maritime Museum share an important story with the community, in a challenging large-scale installation.

various signs

SIGNWAVE helps the Australian National Maritime Museum share an important story with the community, in a challenging large-scale installation.

The Australian bushfires of 2019-20 were unprecedented in scale and impact.

More than 30 million hectares of land was burnt nationwide; 33 people and over a billion animals were killed. More than 3,000 homes were destroyed and countless families displaced. To evacuate people, and carry equipment, supplies and medical teams to help various coastal towns, with the roads blocked, transport by sea became the only option in some circumstances. The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM)’s free outdoor exhibition documented the 2019–20 bushfires through the words and images of Navy personnel, Surf Life Savers and residents of the New South Wales/Victorian South Coast.

ANMM teamNavigating many moving parts

ANMM collaborated with SIGNWAVE Newtown to deliver the exhibition panels.

From previous experience working on outdoor exhibits for ANMM, Trevor Vyner and his SIGNWAVE team understood the factors that could make or break the project. In the past they had printed artwork directly onto the panel substrate, which was a prolonged printing process. Furthermore, before the exhibition could go ahead, not only did numerous stakeholders need to be consulted, but the unveiling had to be timed to coincide with a public announcement. On this occasion, to improve labour efficiency and (as a bonus) print quality, SIGNWAVE made the decision to print the bushfire exhibition to vinyl then mount to the panel.

Once the 30 (3m x 1.5m) panels were ready, timely installation was critical. Rain or bad weather could cause the sail-like panels to blow away and they could not be installed without careful coordination with museum painters (who completed the pillars the panels were mounted to) and security (who ensured the safety of pedestrians). Said Trevor, “As a local supplier, our proximity allowed us to react quickly in real time to production and installation needs.”

exhibition panels

Community-invested and purpose-driven

By working collaboratively with ANMM, SIGNWAVE were given the green light to proceed and were able to complete the project and deliver the exhibition to the public on time.

Said a staff member from Interpretation Design, Australian National Maritime Museum, “We are so thankful to Trevor and the team for being absolutely terrific to work with - delivering works to great standard. They provided us with thoughtful, good natured, adaptable and nimble services throughout the development process that have supported us so well, here in Melbourne and Sydney at the museum. The outcome is highly regarded, and we are very proud of what we have all achieved together!”

Trevor cites the like-minded approach between ANMM and SIGNWAVE as being the key to success. “Everything about this job and the client is exactly what we like working on. There were a lot of moving parts involved but at the end of the day, this was an interesting and important piece of story-telling. Everyone at ANMM is purpose-driven, enthusiastic, friendly, community-invested and that is reflected in the finished product.”

exhibition panels