Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blackall - A Cultural Community

As promised, here's a peek at the Blackall Cultural Association's Centre, where I recently taught a couple of workshops. This terrific building is a great venue; with a good sized workshop space, a number of smaller rooms that are put to very good use as, among other things, a library, a dedicated patchwork and sewers space - even a lounge room and enormous kitchen. Also, there is accommodation for a number of visitors. I was lucky enough to get the double room with my own bathroom...very comfortable and cosy. The building was once a hostel for students who had to live in town to attend school. It's been taken over by the Cultural Association - a very busy and dynamic group, from what I could tell! While I was in town, they had a circus workshop and performance travel though, and the day after I left a Youth Orchestra arrived. There's plenty happening in Blackall - including these fabulous sculptures...

Jill took me for a tour of the towns art...impressive! Richard Moffat visited and as an artist in residence created this incredible eagle and nest from rusty, abandoned junk from peoples dumps. She sits metres in the air, surveying the river and quietly being just awesome...(Some of Richards work can also be found at The Priory at Bingie) Click on the photo for a better look at her body, which has been constructed from the blades off some kind of farm implement...very clever! (I'm secretly in love with this eagle, and want one for my own backyard! I'm not sure that any of the fellas around here were too enthusiastic when I suggested they give it a go though! Apparently they're more fond of chasing cows.)

Then there's this! A huge spinifex ball. All rusted wire wound just like the spinifex, sitting in the open a few hundred feet from the you can see, it looks magical in the evening light. I believe the original intention was for the ball to sit in the longer grass, but the local authority has cleared around it and put a road right up to it...which I can understand, I guess lots of travellers were hiking across the flat to get a better look - probably seemed sensible...but wouldn't it be cool sitting nestled in the grass?

There were other pieces of inspired art favourite the horse, rider and beast sculpture. The body of the horse was created from pieces of driftwood collected from the Barcoo River. It is a very skillful piece of work...such a pity that I wasn't a very skillful photographer! I discovered too late that I had changed my camera settings and the photos were all horribly overexposed...We live and learn. It's just one more good reason for you to make the journey to Blackall - so you can see it for yourself!

Down the road from Blackall, you'll find Barcaldine (if you drive for about an hour...and don't do it early in the morning or late in the evening; the kangaroos are out on force at daylight and dusk. Didn't think you'd want photographic evidence of the way the combination of kangaroos and vehicles looks on the side of the road!).

These photos are taken at the Tree of Knowledge in the main street of Barcaldine. A significant site,for over a century, the tree died (under somewhat suspicious circumstances) and this structure has been built over and around the remains of the tree, recreating the feeling of being under it's canopy. It's quite clever, but I have to confess to feeling just a little uncomfortable underneath it - all those pieces of timber are free to swing, and you get a sensation that they could fall...I kept telling myself that as they built it they would have been very careful not to let that happen...but still...

I hope I've given just a little taste of the 'Outback''s funny, really, no one seems to really be sure where the famous Outback begins! There are doubtless residents of Blackall and district that would say the Outback is further out than that, but, for my money, you're getting pretty close. I have visited  that area, and much further west than that, a number of times; and while it's a long way between towns, and maybe not the most picturesque landscape, there is a beauty about it that I haven't found equal to anywhere. The sunrises and sunsets are especially breathtaking - open sky as far as you can see, they're pretty special. I hope one day, you'll have a chance to experience it for yourself!


Jennifer said...

Tracey, thank you for sharing your country with those of us who haven't been there--yet. It looks beautiful. I wish I could come take one of your classes!

Hannah said...

Tracey, I love the way your post traces a path from the "Cultural Center" of Blackall complete with ground sculptures to the beginning of the outback marked by the Tree of Life. The way you've photographed its structure reminds me of a cathedral--both beautiful and haunting. Where in Australia is this located? I would love to find it on a map.

Tracey said...

Thank you both for sharing your enjoyment!
Jennifer - I wish you could come take one of my classes too!
Hannah - That Tree of Life work (I can't quite call it a sculpture, yet I don't quite know what I should call it...) is indeed quite cathedral like, there's a certain quality of hushed awe inside there. It's located in Barcaldine, in Central Western Queensland, you may easily find Longreach on a Queensland map, and Barcaldine is an hours drive to the east/south east of there.