A Desert Love Song

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Photo from mgnsw.org.au

The year I arrived in Broken Hill Janine Mackintosh of Kangaroo Island won the Outback Art Prize which is held annually at my beloved Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery.  Her work, Droughts and Flooding Rains, was a mandala composed of stitched twigs. It was one of my favourites as well as the one the judge selected.

Rick Ball

Photograph from rick ball.com.au

Each year artists are invited to submit work in any media which reflects the spirit and diversity of the Australian Outback. Finalists are selected for the exhibition by a committee and three prizewinners are selected by a visiting judge. In 2012 my lovely friend Rick Ball won with his powerful work The Land-Broken Hill and Darling River. Ian Tully’s prize winning entry Personal Mobile Broadband Satellite Receiver in 2013 was

From guild house.org.au

From guild house.org.au

controversial and I would have bought elements of Liz Butler’s Lines of Demarcation in 2014 but couldn’t as it is an acquisitive prize and the work is now owned in its entirety by the Gallery.

In less than 12 months of outback living I was enthralled by the spirit and diversity of the place. Long regular walks in the bush, picnics in creek beds, visits to Mutawintji were all sewing the seeds of my own response to the desert.

In late 2014 we knew we would be leaving the Hill, and I knew that it was now orDSCN1078 never.  The piece that had been gestating for over two years, loitering in notebooks, littering the house with its potential accumulations, had to be made.  And so, over seven months, the Desert Walking Gown emerged. And that meant making hundreds of paper thin polymer gum leaves and stitching them onto a cape by hand.  It meant making and collecting countless bones and pods.  It 88663747000E6C573meant gratefully accepting the offering of a dead emu who no longer needed all her feathers.

It felt like a ritual.  It felt like a reflection on my time here, discovering the beauty and harshness of this country, responding to the depth and dignity of the-19746920664B712B76 landscape.  Learning to love a place that wasn’t Nepal.  As my labour became more intense over the past  last weeks, it has felt more special.

I don’t know whether my Desert Walking Gown has been accepted for the -8316649256D301D7Exhibition. I will be euphoric if it is selected. (And, if I am honest, disappointed if it isn’t) But it has been a wonderful experience making it. It has felt very vulnerable, very congruent, very authentic.  I can’t sing. This is my love song to the outback.

11 thoughts on “A Desert Love Song

  1. Deb Sims

    Wow, Wendy. This is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt expressions of connection to a place I have ever seen. So deep and touching!

    Reply
    1. wendy Post author

      Oh you lovely thing Deb. Thank you. It did feel very much about connection. Tory’s visit was perfectly timed in helping unloose the inner found object goddess! Hugs to you.

      Reply
      1. Deb Sims

        Oh Wendy, please, p,ease, imagine the very best outcome for your entry. Thoughts really do become things and your piece is so worthy to be included! I just know you are getting good news!
        Had a lovely visit with Tory in late May in Santa Fe. Come see us!

        Reply
  2. Deb Hunt

    Congratulations Wendy, that’s a magnificent love song that’s both ancient and new, encapsulating so much of what many of us love about Broken Hill, with the added depth and richness of your remarkable talent. Magical x

    Reply
    1. wendy Post author

      Debs just seem to be such lovely, generous, creative people as a rule don’t they. Another gorgeous Deb. Thank you Deb and you know very well the Outback pull don’t you. Glad you got to see my response in the flesh so to speak. Thanks for the encouragement. I will let you know when I hear anything. Only a few days overdue now but this is Broken Hill!!! Cue wry smile.

      Reply
  3. cathy

    I’ve already raved about this beautiful, powerful piece to you, Wend. After reading your post I just find myself reverting to a time honoured mantra which one learns in about Gr 3, out on the oval, hoping your best friend gets picked for the same continuous cricket team as you’ve just been picked for….

    PLEASE PICK HER PLEASE PICK HER PLEASE PICK HER PLEASE PICK HER PLEASE PICK HER

    love Cathums XX

    Reply
    1. Wendy Moore

      Darling Cathums, I may have said that making this was enough. Being selected would be a bonus. I think I was protecting myself from vulnerability a teensy bit there. Just between you, me and the proverbial, I think the fact that I am imagining the worst because I haven’t heard yet suggests I will be VERY disappointed if the piece is not selected. How’s that for raw vulnerability. So keep the mantra going please baby.

      Reply
    1. wendy Post author

      Thank you darling due! It will be fun deciding where to put it in Canberra! Missing you already! W xx

      Reply
  4. Lisa

    Congratulations Wendy! I’m sure it’s even better than the photos. I do hope you’re selected but disappointed not to see it in the flesh (bone?).

    Reply
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