I have been living in the mountains for about 3 years now, and it would be fair to say that I know very little about the place that continues to surprise and enchant me. It is a work in progress, and it is interesting to see what other people encounter when they visit briefly or live extensively in the mountains.
The Exhibition, which is currently showing at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba, is a celebration of various works that capture some of the elements of the mountains and mountain life. It is the first showing of the gallery’s own collection and is a sample from over 90 significant artworks by local and Australian artists.
One of the original tourist attractions, Jenolan Caves, is featured in 5 canvases by Evan Macleod. The painting tracks the scale of the caves, ascending from the depths of the caves into the light. There is a series of 14 artworks consisting of various well-known spots in the mountains by Peter Kingston. These pieces capture the essence of many familiar places including Leura, Katoomba, Mt Wilson and the Hydro Majestic. I particularly enjoyed the beanied dog travelling on the Scenic Railway.
Another highlight was the portrait of Jenny Kee by Scott Marr. This is a fittingly vivid portrayal using pyrography and natural pigments on paper, honouring her love of the Australian landscape and devotion to Buddhism. There is also the portrait of Kee in the 2015 Archibald Exhibition showing in the gallery. ‘Wollangambe Wilderness’ by John Caldwell was memorable, capturing the mountain landscape in a dark mix of blues, greens and greys, along with the crisp portrayal of rocks and vegetation. There is a rolling storm gathering around the mountains, true to life.
Four of Andrew Merry’s photographs are on display, and my eyes were drawn to the Casino Cupola of the Hydro Majestic. It is a magnificent photo of the iconic dome, and I was interested to read that it was captured using a cherry picker during very specific atmospheric and lighting conditions, 18 metres off the ground. Merry was the official photographer during the Hydro’s recent extensive renovations. His other photos depicted storms, sunlight and the devastation of scorched earth following bushfires. I also really enjoyed four pieces from the Black and Blue exhibition. This was a collaboration of artists and writers portraying stories, real and imagined, in visual and written form.
All of the pieces meet the selection criteria of excellence, relevance, value and ability to celebrate the cultural identify of the Blue Mountains.
How is the cultural identity of your neighbourhood displayed?
[Photo: Katoomba outlook from the viewing platform at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre]