Rachel Griffiths ‘deeply moved’ by the devastation found while filming a new series

Watching a man scour his home from what was left of a devastating flood was a sobering moment for actress and producer Rachel Griffiths.

Earlier this year she was traveling across Australia for filming when she dragged an Arthur Streeton painting to the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales.

Griffiths was welcomed by a community recovering from their third flood in 12 months.

“To stand with a guy who is pressure washing his house for the third time and feeling deeply connected to a place he’s not sure he has the ability to handle or accept the anger of nature — that was one of our deeply moving times,” Griffiths said.

She never imagined that just a few weeks later, Rohan Smith she was interviewing would do a fourth cleanup.

Griffiths has a heightened appreciation for the harsh reality of the Australian landscape.

Life after lockdown

She has taken an in-depth look at some of Australia’s most famous landscape paintings by presenting the new ABC art series Great Southern Landscapes and hopes the prime-time series will inspire wanderlust for our own backyard.

Darug wife Erin Wilkins takes Griffiths down the Hawkesbury River to tell his story.(ABC: Great Southern Landscapes)

The Melbourne-based actress and producer emerged from the pandemic lockdowns hungry to explore natural beauty, and she’s done so through the eyes of some of our greatest artists.

As an art lover, Griffiths was not disappointed.

“It was wonderful to fly over the vast expanse of the country once the borders opened up and I think what I really enjoyed hearing was how people outside of Melbourne have been through the past few years,” Griffiths said.

The six episodes capture the devastation of the recent floods, the cultural significance of the landscapes and the painful history that unfolded.

Lake Eyre in South Australia, Exmouth and Cottesloe Beach in Western Australia, and Warrnambool in Victoria are some of the locations for the 30-minute episodes, which will be filmed from February to July.

Griffiths treasures the time she spent exploring the landscapes that surrounded Albert Namatjira, a pioneer of contemporary Indigenous Australian art.

Rachel Griffiths stands on a bridge over a river with her arms outstretched.
Melbourne native Griffiths was keen to explore Australia when the borders opened. (ABC: Great Southern Landscapes)

In one episode she will take viewers to Namatjira’s home in Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory to learn how central he has been to sharing his knowledge of the country and inspiring other artists to do the same.

It’s in her blood

Griffiths himself grew up inspired by artists from all walks of life.

She had a passion for art while still at school and followed her mother Anna Griffiths through galleries.

“For me, it’s part of my everyday language because I’m an artist’s daughter and I’m married to an artist and I’m a performing artist,” Griffiths said.

Her love of landscapes is reflected in the films that have captivated the actor.

Griffiths described the mystery film Picnic at Hanging Rock as shaping her, intrigued by the idea that the landscape could be a place girls could eat.

“I think what put Australian filmmaking on the map was our cinematographers and our directors before our writers,” she said.

“Whether it’s Baz Luhrmann’s Sydney in Strictly Ballroom to Tracks, I think our filmmakers have always tried to do justice to the incredible views that we have.”

Rachel Griffiths stands in front of a grassy landscape.  She wears a brown hat.
Griffiths has loved art all her life. (ABC: Great Southern Landscapes)

She hopes that Great Southern Landscapes will also do justice to our nation’s precious natural environment, just as the featured artists did.

Griffiths said it would be great to give ABC viewers some inspiration to see what their own backyard has to offer.

“I hope to inspire people when they go to this vantage point – instead of getting out of the car, getting run over, taking a selfie and falling off a cliff – you’re actually Googling who was here, whose land you’re on.” are located and what stories were here,” she said.

“And you understand the place a little deeper than just the five-minute Instagram.

“The purpose of a view shouldn’t just be for an Instagram post, but to really understand our European history and the 60,000 years before we arrived, what those places were.”

What’s next?

Aside from the series, which is set to premiere August 9 at 8 p.m., Griffiths has her fingers in several pies that have yet to be revealed.

She is the recipient of a number of awards, including for her roles in Muriel’s Wedding and Six Feet Under.

The Melbourne actress said she is “on hold” for a role in a major US show and is waiting to find out more.

She is also co-creator and executive producer of a few shows that she introduces to various streamers internationally.

“I always have something cooking,” she said.

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