Stories of Giants

Next date: Thursday, 18 July 2024 | 02:00 AM to Sunday, 08 September 2024 | 04:00 PM

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Image: Emma Jennings, Bill Robinson, (details), 2023.

“I imagine these portraits standing up tall like the trees once were – these giants of the forest and giants of our community.”
- Emma Jennings 

Stories of Giants
by Emma Jennings

Yarra Ranges Regional Museum
Wed, 5th Jun – Sun, 8th Sept 2024
FREE entry, no booking required.

Olinda-based artist Emma Jennings’ Stories of Giants honours the humble yet extraordinary people who supported the Dandenong Ranges community in the wake of an unprecedented storm event on 9 June 2021. Three years after the disaster, Jennings’ portraits and ongoing creative recovery work embrace art and creativity to process the experience and support her community to move from survival to meaning-making, healing and recovery. 

Jennings developed Stories of Giants as a creative recovery project in the weeks and months after the storm devastated the Mountain Ash forests she calls home. With more than 25,000 trees lost, 177 homes damaged and 79 properties destroyed, many families are still displaced, while residents and first responders continue to process the trauma and ongoing impacts of this event. Jennings felt a strong urge to help her community. After working in the relief centre in Olinda, she opened her studio for a series of healing, creative workshops. A community renowned for its artistic calibre, these workshops offered people the chance to transform shock, grief and loss into meaning, hope and renewal by building community connections. 

The resulting exhibition brings together community members’ creative responses with Emma Jennings’ painted portraits to pay homage to the fallen forest. Jennings’ detailed portraits of residents and volunteers, created on salvaged lengths of timber from trees that fell in the storm, are layered with botanical studies and patterns found across the forest floor. Evocative of the once tall forest giants, these paintings embody both the landscape that was and the regenerative growth slowly healing the land and people, by honouring those who worked tirelessly to support their community and loved ones in the wake of disaster.  

About the artist 

Emma Jennings is a visual artist who lives and works on Wurundjeri Country in the Dandenong Ranges. She draws inspiration from her local community and the temperate rainforests that surround her home in Olinda to create ethereal and emotive paintings and drawings. Her impressions often use renewable materials and observational methods, such as handmade Japanese paper, locally sourced natural pigments, and salvaged timber, to highlight the climate emergency unfolding on her doorstep and its impact on residents.  

Jennings runs creative community and creative recovery workshops from her studio and gallery in Olinda Village. She is a committee member for Villages of Mount Dandenong and a founding member of the Corhanwarrabul Creatives—a group that aims to improve the visibility of and professional opportunities for artists in the region. Her works are held in local, interstate, and international collections, as well as public artworks in Olinda Precinct Nature Playspace and Jells Park Wheelers Hill commissioned by Parks Victoria. She was awarded the Peoples’ Choice Award for the Burrinja Climate Change Biennale (2023), as well as the People’s Choice Award twice for her participation in the Dandenong Ranges Open Studios (2016, 2017). 

About Yarra Ranges Regional Museum

Opened in 2011, Yarra Ranges Regional Museum promotes a greater understanding of the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the Yarra Ranges region through exhibitions, collections and programs. 

The Museum is custodian of a collection of over 13,000 cultural objects, including Indigenous belongings related to Coranderrk Aboriginal Station and a sub-collection related to opera diva Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931). 

Yarra Ranges Regional Museum is open Wed - Sun, 10am - 4pm and entry is free.


  • Wednesday, 05 June 2024 | 12:00 PM - Sunday, 08 September 2024 | 04:00 PM


Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, 35-37 Castella Street, Lilydale, 3140, View Map

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