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River’s history told in stone

Wednesday, 4th May, 2016

Badger Bates and partner Dr Sarah Martin with his sculpture on the Mildura Riverfront.PICTURES: Sarah Martin Badger Bates and partner Dr Sarah Martin with his sculpture on the Mildura Riverfront.PICTURES: Sarah Martin

By Michael Murphy

The story of the Murray River has been immortalised in stone by the hand of renowned indigenous artist Badger Bates.

Badger’s sculpture and mosaic artwork has been unveiled as part of a $20 million development on Mildura’s Riverfront.

Badger chose a Wilcannia stone for his sculpture, the same material he used when he carved his first major work at the Sculpture Symposium in the Living Desert just outside of Broken Hill in 1993.

His latest creation is his 12th major sculpture, but the mosaic tilework that surrounds the sculpture was a first for the Barkandji artist, and it was derived from a Spanish influence.

“The person who really, really inspired me the most was Atoni Gaudi from Spain,” Badger said. Gaudi was a Barcelona-based artist and architect whose works were greatly influenced by nature.

“When I seen his work, it really inspired me to do the mosaic,” Badger said. “It clicked with my own style.”

Badger also enlisted the expertise of Rod and Julie Horsburgh from Jarah Mosaics in Chapple Street. They travelled down to Mildura and stayed for a week to help him get started on the project.

Badger also carved an eaglehawk and crow into his sculpture to represent the Barkandji people of the Darling River.

He encouraged people to touch the sculpture and said it was a gift to tell a story about Aboriginal culture.

“A sculpture is to be touched - if you don’t like it, you don’t touch it.”

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