The Broken Hill

A boom-town, a city with its streets lined with (well) Silver? The home of workers’ power and mining magnates? A landscape borrowed from the Moon – dismembered and scarred with industrial litter.

Only a century and a half ago this was the undisturbed country of the Wilyakali people, part of the larger tribal group of the Darling River Basin in the remote west of New South Wales. Wilyakali language is part of the wider Paakantyi language spoken by the Paakantji, Mayyankapa, and Nyiimpaa groups. The Wilyakali people remain the predominant indigenous inhabitants of the City of Broken Hill.

Australia still pretends to be a climate “Good Guy.”

Remote populations, indigenous or settler, share a strong sense of community – Broken Hill is no exception, and its tough physical and industrial environment produces a culture of solidarity laced with a robust sense of humour.

A Disused mine on the Line of Lode.

My association with the city began by bringing my sculpture students on long (hot and dusty) environmental-art camps and my relationship with Broken Hill and the surrounding landscape has recently been revived by a period as the “Artist in Residence” for the City Art Gallery. This web page is just one element of the creative project entitled “The Past is our Future; The Future is our Past.”

Two voices, two visions of Broken Hill. Thanks to Susan Thomas and Susan Jones.
The Union history is never far from view.
Neither are the reminders of why this town is here.

During my first reconnaissance trip to Broken Hill I interviewed an old-timer and I was struck by something he said about the City. “The past is our future.” I came away from our meeting thinking about history and heritage as an obvious form of tourist marketing, but also as a form of pride and identity. I ran this mantra over and over and realised that it could also operate as a type of palindrome “The Past is our Future; The Future is our Past” which became the title of my project.

Part of the MotherLode series, manifest in multiple forms.

The installation work will debut in the Broken Hill City Gallery in late September 2022 and is accompanied by a series of publications and QR codes that link to online content. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on this site.

Prayer times at the Broken Hill Afghan Mosque
And listen in to broadcasts from the incredible Radio House!