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Sturt Steps art in good hands

Saturday, 12th September, 2020

West Darling Arts’ new Project Officer Jo Crase will be using her immense experience as a gallery, museum and public art curator and project manager to shape and guide Sturt Steps Project Art. PICTURE: Supplied West Darling Arts’ new Project Officer Jo Crase will be using her immense experience as a gallery, museum and public art curator and project manager to shape and guide Sturt Steps Project Art. PICTURE: Supplied

By Annette Northey

West Darling Arts’ new Project Officer for the Sturt Steps Project, Jo Crase, comes to the job with a wealth of art-wordly experience and with it also a passion for telling the stories of the history of a place and its people.

Jo is an art curator and project manager who has worked in major institutions including galleries, museums, and also for local government, both in Melbourne and rural Victoria. These include the Museum of Victoria and Melbourne Arts Centre, where she worked in their Performing Arts Collection. She also worked for metropolitan Melbourne’s Brimbank City Council, curating their significant public art project.

She returned to Broken Hill two years ago with her husband and family where she says she has come on board at the very commencement of the Sturt Steps Project Art.

“It’s a larger visitor-infrastructure project and we’re one component of that.

“It’s effectively going to improve the tourism signage along the way; you can quite easily miss things as it currently stands,” she said.

Currently, they are looking at four sites that they will commission art works for, Jo said.

“At the moment we’re in the stages of shaping some artists’ briefs as to what the stakeholders are hoping to achieve.

“It’s very early days, so there are lots of exciting things to come. It’s definitely a ‘watch this space’.”

Jo said it is important that the local Indigenous communities and anyone who has a vested interest are involved.

“That is all very important to the success of the project.”

She has been intrigued by the history of the towns in the region as well.

“They’re really interesting towns, they have a really rich history.

“You think of towns like Milparinka and Tibooburra; you’re talking about places that were founded 140 years ago. And the purpose for that foundation isn’t necessarily there now, but the towns continue,” she said.

On a recent trip to Milparinka she was surprised to see so many people of all ages travelling through the area.

“There was a young family with a six-week-old baby and a three-year-old child and they were on the road for eight months; there were older retirees, middle-aged people, young families, just lots of interesting people touring through,” Jo said.

“It’s a really great time for the project to be happening and to create points of interest along the way that engage people and build upon the existing art works that are already out there.”

Attracting $5.2m in state government funding, the Sturt Steps Project is a tourism project that pays tribute to Australian explorer Charles Sturt’s 1845 expedition into the country and Far West NSW.

BDT journalist Callum Marshall reported in November, 2019, that the project will see a 1,100km circular route developed within the region which will link Broken Hill to towns like Tibooburra and Milparinka, up to Cameron’s Corner, through Sturt National Park and back to Broken Hill again.

It will see many local and regional groups come together to help highlight the Corner Country region, Indigenous culture and history, settler history, and will develop new infrastructure projects and art installations.

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