“When I took this photo, I didn’t realize the extent of the damage”, Australia at the heart of the Gacilly photo festival

“When I took this photo, I didn’t realize the extent of the damage”, Australia at the heart of the Gacilly photo festival
“When I took this photo, I didn’t realize the extent of the damage”, Australia at the heart of the Gacilly photo festival

All summer long, the Gacilly photo festival (Morbihan) displays the work of renowned photographers outdoors and free of charge. This year, Australia is in the spotlight. A huge country, plagued by climate change. Indigenous people and threatened environment are captured through the lens of committed artists.

Herds in the Australian bush by Viviane Dalle

© France 3 Brittany

The organizers of the 21st edition of the Gacilly festival have chosen to invite around twenty photographers and photojournalists in accordance with the philosophy of this major summer event. All evoke in their own way, in accordance with the ecological commitment of the festival, the dangers which threaten Australia, but also its beauty. It is also an opportunity for the visitor to discover a country that few have the leisure to visit. So far from us, so disproportionate: 14 times the surface area of ​​France, 26 million inhabitants, a population almost three times smaller than ours! It is a land of immensity and wide open spaces.

“For us Europeans, Australia is a mythical land, with large untouched spaces, but it is also a threatened land

Cyril Drouhet

curator of the exhibitions of the Gacilly Photo Festival

“The disappearance of the coral reef, droughts and bushfires, the social situation of the Aborigines, are all subjects that the invited photographers address through the work exhibited here”,explains Cyril Drouhet, the curator of the festival’s exhibitions.

Read also. VIDEOS. Gacilly Photo Festival: Close-up on 10 photos not to be missed if you go to visit the exhibition

In the flowery streets, alleys and natural spaces of the small Morbihan city, a real plea for the defense of this country, its inhabitants and its wild nature is revealed in images. The formula is immutable: giant format photographic prints are exposed to the public. Works made to challenge the public.

Matthew Abbott welcomes you with a big smile. At the age of 40, he won the World Press Photo for his photo of a kangaroo running in front of a burning house. It comes from a series called “Fires and Counterfires”. A work dedicated to the “Black Summer”, the black summer of major bush fires between June 2019 and May 2020.

Fire and counterfeits, one of the strong photos exhibited at La Gacilly this year


“When I took this photo, I didn’t yet realize the extent of the damage. Bush fires are common here!

Matthew Abbott


“I believe that my photo has become iconic because it speaks to everyone. It is simple and explicit. We immediately understand the impact of the fires on both people and animals!”

“This summer, 24.3 million hectares were devastated. 3,000 buildings destroyed. As for the victims, 34 people died and 3 billion animals perished in the flames.” reminds us of this Australian origin. Everything is said in this other photo taken near a lake where residents have taken refuge. “

traditional Aboriginal method of managing bushfires, by Matthew Abbott

© France 3 Brittany

Logic would have dictated that I photographed the fire in front of me, but I turned around and saw these people stunned and petrified, I wanted to capture their vulnerability.” explains Matthew Abbott.

The State does not appear to have taken any concrete measures following this tragedy. Will he be able to start again? However, the first inhabitants of this territory set an example. The photographer accompanied Aboriginal people to highlight their technique for stopping the spread of flames. We see them lighting bush fires themselves to create counterfires. “For them, fire is a tool. They burn land at specific times. When there is no wind, the vegetation is still green. White people should listen to them and accept that the forests are managed and not left in their natural state.

The streets of Gacilly, a small town in Morbihan, display the works of Australian artists in large format for the 21st edition of the photo festival.

© France 3 Brittany

Aborigines, an indigenous people of Australia, in the spotlight at the Gacilly photo festival

© France 3 Brittany

An aborigine here is one : Bobbi Lockyer is part of the community of the “Salt Water” people, near the small town of Port Hedland, near the sea, in the North West of Australia. She was noted for her maternity photos. Moreover, her four sons and her mother posed for her.

For us, the role of the mother is essential, it is thanks to her and her descendants that we remain connected to the land of our ancestors.

Bobbi Lockyer

Aboriginal photographer

The mother raises the children with respect for the earth,” she says. In each portrait of Bobbi Lockyer, an impression of gentleness emerges. In traditional costume, surrounded by a natural environment, with a particular emphasis on colors, women and children are tamed by the lens in their privacy.

Motherhood as seen by Aboriginal photographer Bobbi Lockyer

© France 3 Brittany

For Bobbi Lockyer, these photos serve as a tool to demand more social justice, rights for indigenous peoples and women’s rights. She says that every time they give birth, Aboriginal women are sent to hospitals far from their homes. “I defend the “Birthing on country” movement, so that we can have our children born, at home with our families, on the land of our ancestors according to our traditions. The survival of our traditions requires respect for our ancestral rites . Secret rites of which she will reveal nothing. For this artist, it is indeed a question of defending the territories of the first peoples of Australia in the face of financial concerns which threaten them : “I was born and raised in a mining town where white people destroy the environment in the name of profit.”

Frenchwoman Viviane Dalles spent two years in Australia, far from the coasts where the majority of the population lives. She ventured into the heart of the country, into the bush and the outback, two thirds of the territory. In these immense spaces and these deserted regions, she wanted to venture as far away as possible, on the dusty roads, outside of any city.

A bush farmer, in the middle of the Australian desert, photo by Viviane Dalles

© France 3 Brittany

An astonishing journey which leads her through chance to strange encounters. She will share the life of farmers at the head of herds of 2 to 3,000 animals, observing their work, sleeping with them under the stars.

The animals are brought together by helicopter with quads to reach farms the size of our French departments.

Viviane Dalles


Far from everything, she will also follow the improbable hosts of a boxing tent who travel in a trailer. The troop goes from place to place to offer a show of fights to the public. “Everyone competes to defend their honor in the ring. There is pride in fighting for your identity” underlines Viviane Dalles.

Transported on the roads by a trailer, the “boxing tent” offers the public fights in which they can participate.


On her way, she will also meet a postwoman from the desert. Again, this work is on the scale of the immensity of the desert. She delivers her mail by plane, with an uncertain schedule depending on the weather. Extraordinary destinies that Viviane Dalles has brought to light.

Herds in the Australian bush by Viviane Dalle

© France 3 Brittany

The Gacilly photo festival also opens its doors to other perspectives in other countries. Always with the desire to put the image at the service of the defense of the environment and populations.

Gacilly Photo Festival, free, from June 21 to November 3, 2024. Decryption of the photos to also discover on site thanks to videos accessible by QR codes, produced by France3 Bretagne and France Bleu Armorique



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