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.