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Artist depicts river’s plight

Saturday, 23rd February, 2019

Gail Braidie with her sculptures ‘Cyrena & Jayr’ and ‘Rayya & Dromaius’ which depict a fantasy story involving creatures trying to save the river system. PICTURE: Emily McInerney Gail Braidie with her sculptures ‘Cyrena & Jayr’ and ‘Rayya & Dromaius’ which depict a fantasy story involving creatures trying to save the river system. PICTURE: Emily McInerney

Local budding artist Gail Braidie has been selected to show her sculptures depicting the destruction of the Darling River.

Gail will take part in the ‘Voice of a River’ exhibition which is being held in Mildura from March 9.

“A post appeared on social media a couple of weeks ago from Arts Mildura inviting expressions of interest for the ‘Voice of a River Exhibition’ in response to the ecological disaster on the Darling River, the destruction of a nation’s artery,” she said.

Gail was interested in applying as she had been working on a series of sculptures that told the story of the draining of the river system.

“My love of sculpture began when I attended a fantasy figure workshop tutored by figurative sculptor Lorell Lehman at the Ballarat Winter School of Fibre Arts in 2017,” she said.

“During 2017, the Menindee Lakes were drained for the second time within a couple of years and there were many questions being asked as to why this was happening.  

“I began to wonder, what if there was a fantasy ‘Fae Side of the Outback’ and if there was, what effect would this be having on the creatures that dwell within?

“In photos I took of beautiful bark patterns in the gum trees along the bank of Sunset Strip, I could see images of a fish dying, a bird crying and water receding and so the story unfolded - ‘Fae Side of the Outback’.” 

Using polymer clay over wire armature, mixed media and found objects, Gail began sculpting a 3D fantasy story that connected the conceptual realm to the material world based on the disappearing water, and taking inspiration from the beautiful colours of the Australian outback, the magnificence of the rivers, the amazing wildlife and people.

“As I felt my sculptures were very relevant to the theme, I decided to submit an expression of interest and was notified that the sculpture ‘Cyrena & Jayr’, which was a work in progress, had been accepted, and another sculpture ‘Rayya & Dromaius’ has been requested for holding, with the possibility of being introduced during the exhibition which will run for almost a month.”

In the first sculpture Jayr is working hard to bring the river back to life with his special “H20” kit. He can be seen as an embodiment of the Flying Doctor.

The baby mermaid Cyrena is frightened and all alone, lies almost lifeless on the dry lake bed and waiting for Jayr to rescue her.

In the second sculpture ‘Rayya the Water Fairy’ fills a gum-nut with her magical tears, each cupful draining life from her own tiny body as she tries to bring emu ‘Dromaius’ back to life.

Gail said she couldn’t have achieved any of this without support from her loved ones. 

“I have had amazing support and encouragement from family, friends and my workplace to allow me time to complete the sculptures,” she said.

“Arts Mildura have received a great response to the Expression of Interest process, including artists working across the country, and has announced that Nancy Bates (Barkindji) will be providing live music for the opening.”

The ‘Voice of a River Exhibition’ opening is being held at the Museum of Innocence in Deakin Avenue Mildura on Saturday March 9 at 3.00pm. “As this is the first time for me I am a little bit nervous, but at the same time honoured and proud to be part of this very significant exhibition,” she said.

The Exhibition will run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until March 30, 10.00am - 4.00pm; once it is opened.

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