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Museum master craftsman

Monday, 15th July, 2013

Living legend Kevin “Bushy” White in front of his mining museum. Living legend Kevin “Bushy” White in front of his mining museum.

By Paul Armstrong

When you meet Kevin “Bushy” White you are taken by his unabashed sheer love for our city, its people and mining heritage.

With the great support of his wife Betty, the couple surely is well regarded and respected caretakers of our history in Broken Hill. 

Their ‘White’s Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum’ is one of the best of its kind in Australia and with Betty’s doll and bear display, one of the most unique in any regional area. 

Kevin was born here in 1943 but at 18 months old he lost his father and with 4 other kids it was a tough life for the family.

Kevin admits his schooling was spasmodic and at an early age did office work at the old ice and produce store before going onto the ice-cream making part of the factory.

Later he worked at Frear’s wood yard and then graduated to working on upholstery for a while.

When he was nearly 17 years old he went to Robinvale and worked on a property for three and a half years before returning home forever.

Later he married Betty and three children followed and now they have eight grandchildren.

His sporting interests included football, baseball, cricket, darts, and quoits.

Working with mates on the Zinc Mine for 26 years was enjoyable, though it was a harsh life. Kevin said, “In the end working with men you trusted your life with was good and character building to say the least.”

In 1971, Kevin created his first mineral artwork and from that time his work has been praised greatly around town and a number of his pictures have been given to the Vatican in Rome. 

He now has completed well over 800 pieces of mineral art and still does commissioned works for people and community organisations he has great respect for, including the RFDS and Lifeline. 

He was retrenched from work, aged 49, but soon other interests gave an indication where his next step in life would take him and Betty. 

From around 1984 his collection of memorabilia and the museum has grown significantly and houses many works of mineral art, mining artifacts from over 100 years of history and spectacular model work that shows the working of the mines in a detailed format.

The visitor is drawn into another world as Kevin tells his stories and gives the tourist a word journey through the life of our mining history in an honest down to earth manner that is persuasive and entertaining.

Kevin supports many charitable organizations and his hobbies are his continued support of Lifeline and his exquisite Mineral Art. 

In a reflective moment Kevin said, “Lifeline has been an integral part of my life for many years and I loved working at the Lifeline Art shows over the years, it’s wonderful to see so many gifted artists in our community.”

His work ethic in the museum over 30 years is sensational and on top of his working life on the mines, Kevin has notched up over half a century of commitment to his craft and caretaking of our history.

Sadly, tragedy struck in 2012 with the passing of daughter Katrina but working together the family is moving on with life.

As Kevin said, “Life brings what it brings and at 70 years of age we will carry on as best we can.” His misty eyes gave depth to the familyís loss.

Kevin has received many awards over the decades including; Best Charles Sturt theme, Ron Schipanski Memorial Award- Broken Hill Tourist Award 2008, champion of Champions First Aid trophy on the Zinc Mine, plus other first aid awards.

Above all else, he has won our community’s respect and admiration for his continued care for our mining history.

His BH Lifeline Award of a Life Membership is a crowning glory on his service above self efforts over many years.

Over time Kevin has held art shows of his work at the Broken Hill Art Gallery, Sturt Park Art Show, Port Pirie, Broken Hill Civic Centre and the Albert Kersten Geo Centre.

Also, he is in the Artist Walk of Fame down Argent Street and has held displays at a number of service clubs and schools round town where he has received commendation and awards. Amazingly, Kevin has been a member of the Broken Hill Tourist Association for 33 years and was on the Board for three years.

Side by side Kevin and Betty are a formidable couple whose support for each other is outstanding and their service to our community exceptional.

Kevin profoundly and honestly said, “I wish to maintain our history and if you lose the past, you will lose the future.” 

Kevin “Bushy” White is a remarkable character and a true to heart Living Legend of our city.

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