Sunday, 4 June 2017

AAA Tour - Day 13 - Art Galleries and Sculptures

Art deco in the main street
Our first full day in Broken Hill followed an indifferent night. It was cold and the toilet block was some distance away and its a very busy park, with vans squeezed onto small sites, side by side. In other words, no pissing room, so each call of the bladder has to be attended to in the officially designated facility.

I don't sleep well under those conditions because you are fully awake by the time you return. If the walk hasn't done it, the bright fluorescent lights in the amenities have and then there's the mind number cold.

All that aside ...

We started the morning with a visit to the trendiest coffee shop in town. Its so trendy, you have to show your ID to prove you are under 65. The coffee was great but the noise level was cacophonic and we slurped and left.

We had a slight Google Map malfunction, walking the opposite way than directed so our walk to the Regional Art Gallery took slightly longer than the three minutes promised but it was a nice day and the buildings we saw made up for it. We reached the gallery - Sue gleefully noticing a white on blue road sign twenty meters ahead of us whilst I was content to notice the big sign above the door a metre to our left. Before entering, we had a quick chat with an old chap who was passing and he told us how he had worked for thirty years for Sully's Emporium,  where the art gallery now stood. His closing comment was "you have a good time" to which Sue replied "11:30" and walked inside.

The gallery was a delight. Downstairs was an exhibition from the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, which raises money for brain cancer. There were some weird and wonderful "beanies", not many of them recognisable as the knitted domes my mum used to make for me. They were colourful and creative and the making of them very creative. The Beanie Festival is very much an inclusive event and a number of aboriginal women appeared in interviews that were playing on a TV in the corner of the exhibition. There was even a selection which punters could try on and view themselves in a mirror. A really fun exhibition.

Upstairs was a potpourri of quality paintings and some sculptures. In the big gallery, unknowns hung beside some Australia's best and of course, being Broken Hill, there were works by Pro Hart. Other well known artists include Rupert Bunny, Lloyd Rees, John Coburn, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Streeton and the weird surrealism of James Gleeson. An impressive and diverse range. In other galleries were a beautiful exhibition of aboriginal woven objects and past winners of the Pro Hart Outback Art Prize.

Throw in a lovely lass on the counter who researched a couple of things for Sue without being asked and then had a discussion about obtuse films following me noticing that the gallery had recently screened the original Dracula film, Nosferatu ... and you have a good experience.

After lunch, we continued the art theme with visits to the studios of Pro Hart and Jack Absolom.

The Pro Hart studio was interesting, mostly because neither of us were aware of the range of his art or his story. Kevin Hart was known as an inventor in his younger years and got the nickname, "Professor", hence, Pro. From a sheep farm near Menindee, he ended up in the mines at Broken Hill, often sketching fellow workers and then developed a variety of art styles, including a paint gun which fired paint at the canvas and many paintings with workers in masks. By far his most common form was stick figures drawn in community against the strident colours of the outback.

At Jack Absolom's gallery, the vast beautiful landscapes that he traversed in his outback travels are painted lovingly and with hued haze that is often present in the vast distances the flatness of the outback allows us. A treat was the appearance of the 90 year old Absolom in the gallery as we were leaving.

Click here to view today's photos
As the afternoon was winding down to its finale, we headed out to the Sculptures of the Living Desert. Proposed by Lawrence Beck in 1992 at an exhibition opening, his vision for the final nature of the Sculpture Symposium, high on the highest hill of an area in the Barrier Ranges owned by the local Council, was not decided until he consulted with an eagle. Yes, well. That aside, the end result of the sculpting of 53 tonnes of Wilcannia sandstone by artists from all over the world, is quite spectacular and unique. We walked among them and stayed until sunset approached but left before the final denouement.

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