Former Tichborne makeup artist uses craft to raise awareness of Australia's bush fire crisis

POWERFUL MESSAGE: Makeup artist Kendelle Watts is using her skills and social media accounts to raise awareness about the bushfire crisis.
POWERFUL MESSAGE: Makeup artist Kendelle Watts is using her skills and social media accounts to raise awareness about the bushfire crisis.

A now Bathurst-based makeup artist wants the world to know that Australia is on fire.

Kendelle Watts, who uses the handle Kenzieloui on social media, is using her growing online platform to spread the word about the bush fire emergency affecting much of Australia, particularly NSW and Victoria.

The 26-year-old - who is originally from Forbes and whose parents live in Tichborne - created a powerful look using a combination of makeup and body paint to convey the severity to the thousands of followers she has, many of them living outside of Australia.

The artwork, posted earlier this month, depicts scorched trees and the silhouette of kangaroos against a backdrop of intense flames on her chest.

Over her face is a mask, darkened by ash, that reads 'Australia is on fire'.

It took three hours for Ms Watts to paint on herself.

"I did it on Saturday [January 4], that really hot day, it was a bit of a struggle," she said. " ... It takes a really long time to do the chest because you're looking down and you're looking in a mirror. I was taking it really slow."

Ms Watts said that the bush fires burning around the country had her feeling quite emotional and she felt the world needed to know what was going on.

"On my Instagram, I have a lot of followers that are from overseas and I wanted to raise awareness and that's the best way I know how," she said.

In addition to posting the photograph, Ms Watts has included a link in her Instagram bio to information about the various ways people can help and encouraged her followers to make donations.

It has helped to generate more money for the fundraising efforts.

"It's been super overwhelming on Instagram. It's my most engaged with post," she said.

"I've had people from America say they had no idea ... they have since donated [to the appeal]."

Ms Watts said it was "important to keep the conversation going" and hopes to do a series of makeup looks that conveys more of the crisis in Australia.

"I'd like to do at least three, a bit of a series," she said. "I want to do one of the drought, but I need to figure out what the last one will be."

Ms Watts, who spent most of her life in Forbes before moving to Bathurst, has been doing special effects makeup for about four years, saying she developed the interest when she wanted to do theatre makeup at university.

She is also studying graphic design.

Her Instagram account began to be populated with examples of her work in 2015.

A number of her earlier looks involved making objects, including candy canes and a pencil, look like they'd been plunged through skin.

More recently, she has turned herself into characters such as Spyro the dragon, the Joker and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.

People who would like to see Ms Watts' work can find her on Instagram or check out her Facebook page, which is called Kenzieloui SFX.


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