Of Obscured Significance

Murray Bridge Regional Gallery’s Of Obscured Significance features artists who are creating a sense of place by paying close attention to their surroundings.

Murray Bridge Regional Gallery’s Of Obscured Significance features artists who are creating a sense of place by paying close attention to their surroundings. They bring to the surface things that might otherwise be overlooked, and moments in history at risk of disappearing altogether. Curator Beverley Southcott is particularly interested in the backbone of society, people who are making significant contributions to the world who might go unnoticed. “I am interested in the things happening under the radar, with people going about their business, doing good things and working towards a better place,” Southcott says. “They are things that might never be noticed, so some of it just drops away.” In addition to works by contemporary artists, the exhibition includes photographs from the Murray Bridge and District Historical Society, which, in a sense, are the backbone of the exhibition. Southcott has selected photographs depicting what people did in the last century at a local level in response to global issues. For instance, the Murray Bridge Cheer Up Society (During World War Two), depicts a group of women who used to provide hampers and cups of tea and coffee at the railway station for soldiers who were on their way from Adelaide to the eastern states. Southcott restored the old photographs, which were torn and at risk of disappearing forever, and has given them a new lease of life, re-establishing their significance. As well as the photographs, Southcott has included a door from the old railway station – which is in the process of being restored, bringing it into the modern era and creating a sense of place. In contrast to the historical photographs are images from Lee Salomone’s photographic series, explaining colour theory to my printer’s software cd. Salomone has photographed the CD in different environments at various times of the day. In its original form the CD captures and stores information and it also does this in its new guise, reflecting its surroundings. Placed outdoors in a natural environment, the CD seems out of place, addressing the impermanence and, at the same time, permanence of technology – will it ever fully disappear? While living in Tennant Creek, artist Louise Flaherty became more aware of nature and her surroundings, exploring bush tucker and indigenous food plants. For this exhibition, she turns to her current surroundings of inner west Adelaide and presents quick, brief sketches of plants she has encountered through her everyday life. Flaherty gives significance to these twigs, branches and leaves, which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Southcott has included two of her own photographs from the series City Tao taken from Centre Point Tower in Sydney, which also address notions of observation. Southcott has designed symbols based on the Tao Te Ching which references Buddhism and Daoism, and they appear in the corner of the images like watermarks on TV. “It’s that sense of surveillance. Hopefully there is something better than surveillance, something besides big brother. Hopefully there is a sense of otherness around the environment.” Of Obscured Significance celebrates a sense of community and goodwill, highlighting the things people do which you can’t quite see. This sentiment is evident in the curatorial process, which for Southcott became more about working together. “It seemed to be like something else rather than curating this time around. It became more about humanism.” Of Obscured Significance at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery continues until Sunday, October 12 murraybridgegallery.com.au

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