Tag Archives: Outback Art Prize

A Desert Love Song


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.

A love song…

In two days I leave Broken Hill for 7 weeks.  In 6 days, my daughter gets married.  DSCN1078In 8 days I leave for a month or so doing my thing in Nepal. Last week I submitted ten pieces to Montsalvat in Eltham for their Gallery shop. (Thank you darling Caterina for getting this happening)  And just over a month after my return from Nepal we are moving.  Again.  I am sure that tied up in that imminent move is my desire to enter the most artistically ambitious thing I have ever attempted into our Outback Art Prize. It has been gestating since we moved to this isolated and amazing place and I…am compelled… to make it now. It is a good-bye love poem in polymer.  It is a desire and not a should because I feel excited, physically alive, almost tingly. It is flowing. In between the other stuff that I choose to do.

(One may have wondered why the afore-mentioned love poem needed to includeDSCN1081 many hand made, hand textured, hand painted bones and hundreds of paper thin polymer clay gum leaves.  One could ask if I really needed to do this right now* but one hasn’t asked this because one has been married to me for two weeks shy of 31 years and knows it wouldn’t help. Instead, without any fanfare or fuss, one sweeps, cooks, and picks up the neglected pieces.  One has encouraged and helped and been generally amazing. Sometimes you can get really lucky.  I know I did.)

DSCN1083I know, at other times, all this going on would be freaking me out. I am a little freaked but to my surprise, am feeling more energised than freaked. I realise that so often, the person saying Do it better; Do it faster; Be more on top of things is me.  Other people can handle it slower, less organised, well down vs perfect!  I can choose to do some things in a good enough way so I can really dedicate the time I want to other things. There is still that tiny part saying  Don’t worry. Tomorrow you will wake up and be REALLY panicked and then you’ll be sorry but for now I’m running with I’m going OK.

Here are some I hope tantalising glimpses of what is to come. Even if I don’t get accepted, it has been fun.  I am learning about creativity, trust, embracing life by the metaphorical balls and going with the flow.

*I do need to do it right now because it is a tad time consuming and the deadline is ten days after my return.