So a couple of weeks ago I spent a few days at Broken Hill. Broken Hill Council held a week long heritage festival. There were over 60 events including tours, workshops, 360 videos and other events.
Badger Bates a renowned local Aboriginal artist took a group on a sunset tour of the Living Desert Reserve. There are 12 granite sculptures that were carved in 1993 are located about 10km from town. These sculptures were carved by artists from all around the world, including one by Badger. The artists and artworks are as follows:
- Facing the Day and Night by Eduardo Nasta Luna (Mexico City, Mexico)
- Thomasina (Jillarruwi – the ibis) by Thomas Munkanome (Tiwi, Bathurst Island)
- Motherhood by Badri Salushia (Tbilisi, Georgia)
- The Bride (Australia) by Dr Mahomad Mira (Damascus, Syria)
- Moon Goddess by Conrad Clark (Katoomba, New South Wales)
- Habitat by Dr Ahmad Al Ahmad (Damascus, Syria)
- Bajo El Sol Jaguar (Under the Jaguar Sun) by Antonio Navo Tirado (Mexico City, Mexico)
- Angels of the Sun and Moon by Valerian Jikiya (Rustiva, Georgia)
- A present for Fred Hollows in the Afterlife by Lawrence Beck (Koolewong, Australia)
- Nhatji (Rainbow Serpent) by Badger Bates (Broken Hill, Australia)
- Tiwi Totems by Gordon Pupangamirri (Tiwi, Bathurst Island)
- Horse by Jumber Jikiya (Rustiva, Georgia)
To see the sun setting across the desert over these sculptures. They are all awesome works of art made even more so by their surroundings. Rodin’s work blew my mind. But these sculptures in the best art gallery in the world is comparable. What made it even better was being able to have one of the artists talk about his experience of creating the artworks, his personal relationships with the other artists and to truly understand how he came to create what he did, wow.
Stone Knapping Workshop
Several stone knapping workshops were held for the public. These were really fun. We were given a run through of how to create stone artefacts, some of the different techniques and then we were on our own. Given hammer stones and cores to work with we started to go at it. It was great to see the age range of people who were there, from the elderly to children. Now I have done some knapping in the past. Sorry, that is an over statement. What I have done in the past, and also this time around was to take a perfectly good bit of silcrete and turn it into useless rubble. Well it wasn’t quite that bad, but not by much. I managed to get a few decent flakes and had fun filling out the forms on the bench (sorry Arlo Guthrie reference). I also got a few pointers from Badger Bates on knapping.
Line of Lode
This wasn’t an organised event just a trip up to the giant pile of rubble that overlooks Broken Hill. Up the top is the Miner’s Memorial and the now closed restaurant and gift shop. I am not exactly sure what happened to the latter but it looks some kind of Marie Celeste type event. The shop was closed up on Friday and then no-one ever came back. Looking through the window you can see the freezer is still full. No idea on whether it is plugged in or not but I wouldn’t want to be the one to check it. Anyway the Line of Lode mullock heap occupies the area that was once the hill that gave Broken Hill its name (or so I have been told). It is massive, ubiquitous and provides a backdrop for the town. The view from the top is great, the methods of death described in the Miner’s Memorial (below) are horrific and there is also the big red bench.
My overall impressions of Broken Hill are it is a much more vibrant place than I had expected. Less red dirt and I did get to see the Priscilla shoe at the Palace Hotel. I had a great time and really enjoyed the place. In case you don’t know Broken Hill is also the first heritage listed city in Australia.
Coming up next on Heritage Gest….
Hills and hollows or You built the church where?