There was a moment when I was standing naked in a waterfall, picking off leeches, with the photographer barking directions at me, that I started having doubts. It was taking an interminably long time, and the damp cold seemed to be seeping out of the ancient forest floor and into my bones. But it was for a good cause, I reminded myself, as Kirsty adjusted her lens for the umpteenth time. I hadn’t quite known what I was getting into when I saw the poster at the local servo advertising for nude models for an environmental cause. Kirsty is well-known here in Tassie as an artist and activist, and she wanted to raise awareness about old growth logging in the Tarkine. When I told my best friend Helen, she was like “You’ll never do that, you’re such a prim prude”. Which cemented my resolve. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. And the photos are de-identified, discreet. We made a few trips to different places … Mount Wellington, the Styx Valley. Kirsty has snake phobia so we had to wait until the middle of winter. One time, we went to a logging coupe. We had to sneak in, hide the car. You could hear the chainsaws, logs hitting the ground like thunder. The ground shook. We were going to a special place Kirsty knew about, but there was no path — we followed these strands of pink builders tape tied to trees by activists who had gone before. We got lost a few times. The trees were massive, they call them ‘cathedral trees’ ’cause you can walk inside them. The absolute beauty of the place … it’s almost untouched, these beautiful floors of moss, bright green fungi. There is a feeling these forests are so special, and they were being destroyed right in front of us. Then we arrived, and we just took our clothes off. Kirsty is a real perfectionist — each shot took forever. But it was worth it. The photos turned out beautifully and got published in a book. As it turned out, my picture is on the cover. I remember walking past the window of one of the big bookshops in town and there it was. I was a bit lost for words.

Dr Clare Ballingall
Hobart, Tas