By Lucy Wilson
Peter Waller’s installation The Drink was in Linda, a once-thriving town 7.5km up the road from Queenstown by Conglomerate Creek, where most of the miners used to live. (Queenstown was actually where the office staff and managers used to live.) There’s only a café there now next door to a striking ruin of the Royal Hotel – a double story concrete shell.
The old hotel’s grey walls have neat, rectangular holes where the windows would once have been grander. It was through one of these, peering into the dining room I experienced a moment of something I don’t know a word for but means a mixture of tranquility, peace, beauty and inner resonance.
It was like a simple yet smartly framed picture of reflection hanging on the floor.
It would be different every time, depending on the weather, and light or dark of day and night.
The use of water in itself was beautiful. The reflection in the water gave reflection of the place; reflection of the history, the lives, the disaster, the weathering and ruining of time. The title The Drink evoked it as a place to be nourished. Once it would have been good tucker and a beer, now it is ethereal.
In conversation with the volunteer guide, she told us the building was the first ever to be made from concrete – “new beaut concrete (walls) that had not long been invented ... so the bastards can’t burn this one down.” She loved the installation and pointed out the original wallpaper freezes that linger on the wall, and told us the story of old Jimmy Simmons who painted the room with his father when he was young.
It was the “Artists attempt to stand back and allow the place to speak for itself”. It spoke of many things.