Built with Indexhibit
Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery 24 September – 14 November 2010
Curated by Meryl Ryan & Malcolm Smith
Charles Sturt returned to Adelaide in 1847 bitterly defeated. He'd travelled 5000km overland with a small wooden boat in the expectation that he'd discover a vast inland sea in the centre of the continent. Sturt had made several exploratory missions over a period of 25 years, generously supported by the public purse but more importantly by the public imagination. The possibility that the heart of the continent was teeming with fertile lakes and waterways offered a redeeming hope for colonial newcomers to this dry and seemingly inhospitable land. The desolate (and somewhat ironically named) Sturt Stony Desert today is located where the explorer had hoped his lake might have been.
Today, eighty-five percent of Australia's population lives along the coastal periphery, and for the past century we have largely defined our cultural identity around our beaches, our bronzed Aussie lifesavers and our long hot summers. But this exhibition is focussed on the other Australian waterways - the lakes, on whose shores we stand and look inwards rather than outwards, and on whose mirrored surfaces our darker desires are reflected back at us.
In 2009 the Australian Centre for Photography mounted an exhibition called The Lake that surveyed recent photographic explorations of Australian lakes. More broadly, the exhibition highlighted historical approaches that artists have taken since colonial settlement to understand the Australian landscape, and how these approaches still resonate with artists today. At the same time, and independent of ACP's exhibition, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery was preparing for a similar exhibition about lakes for their upcoming program. An ideal opportunity arose for these two institutions to compare notes and collaborate, and the exhibition Lake is the outcome.