re the exhibition at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery

As a result of a recent meeting  in November between  Fulvia Mantelli, the new director of  the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, myself and Gilbert Roe  the date of the next Mallee Routes exhibition  in  February 2019 in the Jean Sims Gallery has been cancelled. The exhibition  has been shifted to 17 December 2019 to the 19th January 202o. It is  now in the the main gallery plus the Jean Sims Gallery gallery  (with  the  possibility of also using the Vicki Nottage Sculpture Court). That is a lot of exhibition space.

I am happy with the shift as we now have  increased space  and  more time. This allows me to  reconstruct the  Mallee Routes: Photographing the Mallee 2017 photobook that had been put on hold to prepare for the February 2019 exhibition.  I also have time  to make   extra road trips in the autumn and winter of 2019—  I will definitely be  returning to  Lake Boga and Balranald in 2019   for more photo camps  to continue digging  beneath the Mallee’s surface.

The large space provided by  the main gallery plus the side galleries means that the project has  been given greater acceptance and credibility by the curator.   This  provides us with an opportunity to  substantially expand  on the work that we  exhibited at the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery.  

All in all  this shift of the exhibition to the end of 2019  means an expansion of the exhibition  from what was originally conceived.  Instead of the exhibition presenting work made in 2018 the exhibition  has become  a de facto summing up of the project’s 1st three years. This  is what I had been  trying to do with a proposed  exhibition at the Horsham Regional Art Gallery in 2020. There is now no  need to pursue  the Horsham option. If it does remains an option, then it will be something very  different–eg., a solo exhibition in 2021?

I am not sure what happens after the summing up exhibition at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery.   After the meeting with Fulvia Mantelli  Gilbert and I did  talk about continuing  to go  on photo camps in 2020  as a way  to keep photographing the Mallee, which both of us wanted to do.  Other than that,  I do not know what Eric and Gilbert plan to do  after  the  summing up exhibition.  I have a sense that the project will probably change after this, in that  some people may leave the project and  new people may well join.

My judgement is  that I have only scratched the surface of photographing the Mallee,    even with my  focus on water and irrigation.  There is a need  to continue deepening the historical layering of  the photos by  digging deeper into  the Mallee and its history. With some curatorial guidance we  may be able  to connect with the indigenous presence in the Mallee  and so  develop the historical dimension of the project

I will start  to  link the various Mallee photo camps in 2019-20 with excursions to  photogpraph specific  massacre sites along the River Murray in South Australia and Victoria for the Our Waters project. The  frontier hangings and massacres were used as repressive instruments to protect settler interests and to pacify indigenous resistance to European colonisation on the South Australian frontier.

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