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Exhibition explores those often ignored

Saturday, 2nd March, 2019

Annette Minchin in front of the 24 masks that are part of her ‘dePict’ exhibition. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Annette Minchin in front of the 24 masks that are part of her ‘dePict’ exhibition. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

The ‘dePict’ exhibition is by artist Annette Minchin and features a collection of portraits, artistic objects and an essay, with natural elements like earth and mud prominent within the artworks.

Key to the Darling River aspect of the exhibition is a grouping of masks that have been made out of materials found along the river and which represent the local voices fighting to save it. 

“(Part of the exhibition explores) a Darling River that is dead because too much water has been taken from it,” said Annette.

“And how that’s fundamentally cruel and sad on the way it effects humans, creatures and the landscape.

“Our voices are only small here, we’re not politicians. We don’t make (serious amounts of) money, we live here and love it here and nobody listens.

“So the plinths of the twenty four masks in this exhibition have come from mud and (other natural elements along) the river, (while the masks have been made) from doilies which I found in odd shops and which my aunts had.

“So the masks (symbolise) ordinary people talking to each other and the hope that their whispering will get louder and louder and people will hear the voice of the river.

She said the masks further represented locals along the river who should be paid attention to more, and that often their small population size is counted against them.

It also highlights their small overall visibility, particularly when compared to larger populations or individuals such as politicians and those who are part of special interest groups.

The flows of people, not just the river, was also a key part of the exhibition, said Annette.

“Another part of the exhibition concerns the flow of people throughout the world,” she said.

“As countries become unliveable, we are experiencing an extraordinary flow of refugees into Australia. 

“Unlike after the First World War where European refugees were welcomed into individual houses, now we dismiss and reject them, where they’re invisible within society. 

“By saying no to them, we are diminishing ourselves and these people who need a home.

“These people come from great, deep and long cultures and have now had to move on.

“So I thought, well I can relate to that with our landscape which is fragile and old. And that’s why I made the refugee portraits out of the earth.”

Annette said that the earthly portraits of the refugees are presented in a way so that as the viewer moves along observing them, each image carries with it less and less of the earthly material.

In that way, she said, the portraits represent a changing of the country’s cultural attitude to refugees - from welcoming them in the past with open arms to not caring about them anywhere near as much today.

“What (it represents), is that the refugee pictures are disappearing,” she said. 

“So in the beginning they’re quite substantial but (as you go along), because we now take refugees away from Australia and put them offshore, the portraits highlight that ‘disappearing.’ 

“So the sales of those pictures will go towards the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group.”

The last theme, also of people in portraits, is one of family said Annette.

“So ‘The Aunts Story’ theme starts with Teresa Alphonsi who was a miner here in Broken Hill,” she said.

“She ran a mine here called the Triple Chance Mine, and mined it her herself in the 60s. 

“She mined minerals for the NASA space program. 

“So she knew what she was doing and what was out here, and she could see the value that other people couldn’t. 

“She was a hardworking, extraordinary woman.

“And then it moves across into my family, who were women in Sydney and Adelaide. 

“So I asked my kids and grandkids would they do pictures of their Aunts, and that’s what they gave me (and is part of the collection.)

“But also in there are pictures of some women who are my friends, but also people who I’ve met out on road trips.

“These lovely outback women who do extraordinary things with very little and who are passionate about contributing to the community.

“They don’t get OBEs because it’s only people who are in high-level visible jobs who ever win.

“So where’s the recognition for people in local townships in the outback, who’ve worked all their life to ensure the community (thrives)? 

“They do that but receive no recognition, and that’s part of my aunt’s story.”

The dePICT exhibition will run until May 5.

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