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Gallery celebrates with a full house

Wednesday, 5th May, 2021

A packed house, excited gallery staff along with a relieved and “slightly overwhelmed” group of artists were all in attendance at the first major post COVID opening at the Broken Hill Regional Gallery on Friday night.
A night gallery marketing officer Jade Kerin described as simply “fantastic.”
“We’ve obviously had small hybrid events over the past year but this was the first’s one where we were back to full capacity,” said Jade, who along with Program Officer Hester Lyon could hardly keep the smiles off their faces. And they had plenty to smile about.
Food and drink was back and the people were back with both levels of the gallery filled with what Jade described as a pleasingly mixed demographic.
“There were a lot of younger people which wasn’t typical pre COVID,” said Jade. “We’ve put a lot of effort into putting our publicity online. We’ve really worked to attract the younger demographic and I hope it’s a sign that’s paying off.”
And for the artists, the big crowd was the icing on the cake. Most of the shows in the exhibition had been postponed due to COVID which for some was deeply deflating. Coupled with the uncertainty as to when public events might be allowed, Friday night became almost like an extended celebration after 18 months of anticipation.  
In all five separate, extraordinarily diverse shows are on exhibit, including Wiradjuri artist Dale Collier’s site responsive video work “This is Not a Mineral Mall” and Townsville artist Jonathan McBurnie’s The Garden, a sweeping, scatological exploration of the parallels between the constructed worlds of pro wrestling and our constructed versions of the self.
Local artist Ryan O’Callaghan’s show “Where to Begin” explores his particular interest in the principles of sequential arts including storyboarding, animation and comic books. And he does so with drawings that are rich, imaginative and technically immaculate.
Through inscriptions in stone, Wilcannia artist Ian Marr has responded to the 18th century drawings of Panga, a young Barkandji stockman, drawings which explore the complex relationship between the Barkandji and non-Indigenous station workers at Momba Station during the 1870s. It’s a powerful work, with Marr’s monolithic stone pieces acting as a counterpoint to the delicate drawings of Panga, pictures Marr himself described in his speech to open the exhibition as “filled with beauty and grace.”
“It’s so wonderful to be able to bring the work of this young man from so long ago into this present world. They are for me so present that I somehow have a feeling that he’s going to just appear around the corner at any moment”.
And finally there is “Wirtu’wirtulinya - Three Sisters”, which brings together the work of local indigenous artists Jade Cicak, Taya Biggs and Elisha Mangal, all of them exploring what it means to be a proud Barkandji woman in today’s world. And it’s an exhibition the staff at the gallery have a strong personal connection to with both Jade and Taya having been part of the Freshbark program, the gallery’s year-long mentorship program.
“Everyone in the gallery is thrilled for them. We’ve seen the journey they’ve gone on and then seeing their show and the joy and excitement on their faces. And their parents and family who have also followed them. It’s been very special to watch the passage of these shy high school girls who have grown in to artists.”
This remarkable collection of works from a remarkable group of contemporary Australian artists will remain on show at the Broken Hill Regional Gallery until Sunday the 4th of July.

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