CIMF 2018 Masthead

Everything might not be fine…

Calum Stenning

In recent times, there have been a few events taking people by surprise.

The ‘Super Moon’ for example…I mean, really? Brexit seemed poised to take out the ‘Disappointing Surprise Of The Year’ category, a prime example of national confusion with an upsetting result. But then, from the ashes of a long, dirty, tumultuous and often offensive election rose Donald Trump. The good ol’ U. S. of A, never to be outdone.

Local photographer Daniel Spellman is one of these many “surprised” folks, and his new exhibition, Everything Is Fine is a reflection of that. Framed amongst Moxom and Whitney’s flowers, the images he has created of burnt and burning flowers examine themes of the destruction of beauty, violence and change.

“The flames transform the flowers into something new, and this process can be beautiful – the petals curling up in embers, the smoke elegant drifting away,” says Daniel. “But the process also destroys the flower, so you’re talking about a process of change through something violent and chaotic.”


Those who frequent the internet may well be familiar with the “this is fine” meme – another inspiration for Daniel amongst many to draw on from the election process.


“I couldn’t resist naming each work after a memorable quote from the spectacle that was the election: “Nasty Woman”, “Deplorables”, “By the Pussy”.


Often referred to as a “toxic” election, the process for creating the images was fittingly toxic too. “Most of the images were taken in my garage. It’s a tiny space. I placed the flowers in front of a black backdrop and lit them carefully. Generally, I’d wear a gas mask because the burning kerosene smelt awful” says Daniel. “Healthy flowers don’t burn at all basically – they have too much moisture. Roses in particular are terrible, I struggled to set any rose on fire.”

In keeping with themes of local talent, the soundtrack for the evening will be provided by rising folk/indie star Vendulka. Sensory soothing in tumultuous times.

the essentials

What: Everything is Fine opening event
When: Thursday 1 December
Where: Moxom and Whitney, Ori Building, Lonsdale Street Braddon


Calum Stenning

Calum Stenning is Her Canberra’s newest and most male (read: only) intern. Three years spent living overseas has given him a renewed appreciation for Canberra life. Every day starts with coffee and the Sydney Morning Herald crossword at a favourite coffee haunt, as he is wary of the perils of dementia, and thinks crosswords are a viable safeguard. If he lives to a dementia-appropriate age (evidence says he won’t), he’ll let us know. More about the Author

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