"The rarest of artists are those who see familiar things as no one has previously seen them, and who in setting down their vision, reshape our world for us. In truth, they are the lifters of veils for us. Sights made stale by custom, familiarity or indifference are suddenly furbished with unexpected glints and previously unrecognized beauties. The fresh vision of these artists - and Fred Williams is one of them - makes us reassess things we have had taken for granted for so long that they merely passed through the eye on their way to limbo.
Williams's achievement was to describe the features of what was thought to be a featureless bush. The anonymous slab of countryside was shown to have character of its own. By the subtle abstraction - that is by the process of selection, simplification and synthesis - Williams evolved a style of landscape painting ideally suited to the type of country that aroused his aesthetic enthusiasms. His art grew from a love of certain types of places - it is positive, affirmative, original yet traditional. Of all our landscape painters Fred Williams is the only one who has focused his whole attention on the monotony of the Australian bush as though it was a virtue not a defect. For him the endless repetitions, the muted colours and the absence of sharp accents are qualities to be admired for their own sakes. In making his pictures he goes out of his way to avoid the traditional ways of converting a landscape into a work of art. There is no foreground, middle distance or horizon in the conventional sense. The secret of Williams ability to depict monotony without being monotonous lies in the perfection of his placement. Every spot, line tone or colour forms part of an organisation whose pattern seems haphazard but whose placement is ordained by one of the most refined aesthetic sensibilities of our time. Two elements formed the essential character of his landscape painting - the first derives from the quality of his vision, the second from the successful liaison between his aesthetic sensibilities and his technical skill." (J Gleeson, Australian Painters, Sydney, 1978 p.102)
Fred Williams painted the islands of Bass Strait a number of times during his career. They offered a unique and different landscape as subject, quite unlike the terrain of the mainland and still near to Melbourne. This work encapsulates a diverse landscape as well as another theme that greatly interested the artist and surfaces as a repeated subject. The recurrent theme depicted here is the very Australian phenomenon of the bushfire and more specifically in this case the regeneration of the landscape following the destruction of the bushfire and the way in which the land heals itself.