The Flowerdale Tattoo

 

It began with a logo.

In the months after the fires of 2009, the residents of Flowerdale decided to create an image as a reminder of what they had been through. The community chose a design by Jessica Mason that depicted a skeleton of a tree with one green leaf protruding from the trunk. The Flowerdale Valley Tree Logo was launched at a memorial service in May 2009, appearing on badges and t-shirts.

As soon as Odette Hunter saw the logo, she knew she wanted it as a tattoo. She visited a tattoo parlour in Melbourne where she met Olivia Brumen. Olivia was so touched by the story behind the design that she offered to do the tattoo for free.

News of Odette’s tattoo soon spread and in no time at all, she was organising busses of Flowerdalians to visit Olivia. Since then, Olivia has tattooed 120 of the town’s residents, refusing to charge any of them for the work she has done.

I visited Flowerdale as part of the Aftermath project.

Odette had lined up some people to talk about their tattoo and I met four of them down by King Parrot Creek. They spoke about why they had decided to get the tattoo and what it meant to them. While everyone was tattooed with the tree for personal reasons, the incredible sense of community was evident in all their stories. The fires had destroyed lives and homes, but they had also created a resilient bond in this small community.

As the landscape has regenerated, this has been reflected in the tattoos. Some people get a leaf for each year that passes, whereas others have had additional work done around the logo. After two years, Odette felt she was in the right space to add the next stage to her tattoo; 13 new bright green leaves now mark the 13 friends and community members that she lost.

 

Project: Aftermath Client: ABC Open Location: Flowerdale, Victoria, Australia Date: July 2011 Producer: Benj Binks Writer: Benj Binks Director: Benj Binks Cinematographer: Benj Binks