Friday, October 26, 2012

COPPER CULTURE Queenstown Heritage & Arts Festival 12-14 October 2012

By Lucy Wilson

An inspired gathering occurred in Queenstown in Western Tasmania last weekend.

“Oh, is that the town that looks like a moonscape?”


It’s the mining town that 100 years ago thrived; it must have with fourteen pubs, and another thirteen in nearby surrounding towns like Linda and Gormanston. The North Lyell mine, affectionately called “Mount Mother Lyell” had a disaster that ravaged the heart of an isolated community and left 42 men dead. The second biannual Queenstown Heritage & Arts Festival marked the centenary of this disaster on 12 October 2012 and over the weekend wove family history and reunion, with mining and environment, with contemporary art. It was a compelling mix. Set in an extraordinary town with the copper brown-coloured Queen River running through. Surrounded by the scarred hills left bare and orangey moonscapesque from 130 years of miners plunging ever closer to the core of the earth to leach out its ore. 

Still – Darren Cook & Matt Warren : Queenstown

By Lucy Wilson

It rained as we walked the inhabited but somehow derelict Queenstown streets, to the old disused West Coast District Hospital to see Matt Warren and Darren Cook’s installation Still.

As we entered others exited muttering, “…it’s noth’n, just noth’n, just two rocks in a corridor”. Yet we found it intriguing. In the abandoned wide corridor with its smooth shiny reflective floor and walls painted in pink tones, a dark eerie feeling set in. We were able to explore, but our wandering was interjected by the local volunteer who pointed out what each room used to be: Intensive Care, maternity, the nursery, surgery and so on. Her commentary loomed large and focused on the flurry of the hospital's yesteryear rather than allowing viewers to be still and quiet to allow the sound, video and installation to prevail. 

Kimisis - Falling Asleep – IHOS Opera : Queenstown

By Lucy Wilson

In signature style IHOS Opera staged their performance Kimisis in a unique setting, this time in Old Hanan’s Transport Warehouse in Hunter Street, Queenstown. The audience gathered just inside the old dark shed, as piercing daylight poked through thousands of little holes in the corrugated iron walls. Greek incense wafted and a wheelbarrow of sand held a golden abundance of slim burning candles.

The Drink by Peter Waller - Queenstown 2012

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.

Wall-to-wall water.