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Murrary Darling Basin Commision Australian National University

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The following photographs are a snap-shot record of ‘Engaging Visions: A Benalla Field Study’, an exhibition of visual art at the Benalla Art Gallery, 10 – 31 October, 2009, by participants in the ANU School of Art Benalla Field Study program and a complementary performance by the ANU School of Music Contemporary Music Ensemble also at the Benalla Art Gallery, Monday 26 October, 2009.

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Gallery grand piano moved into position in preparation for the Contemporary Music Ensemble rehearsal and performance

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ANU School of Music Contemporary Music Ensemble in rehearsal

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Contemporary Music Ensemble in rehearsal

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Performance in progress. Thirty five members of the the Benalla community attended

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Installation component of a performance by Bridget Mackey that took place during the exhibition opening

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Lake Mokoan Performance, Bridget Mackey, Lake Mokoan, 5.45 pm, 10 October, 2009

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Exhibition Exit Survey table

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Simon Klose, Director, Benalla Art Gallery, gives artists feed-back about the artwork in the exhibition

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Dismounting the exhibition, Sunday 1 November, 2009

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Exhibition packed, 3pm Sunday 1 November, 2009

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Left to right: Hayley Bullock, Courtney Pelkowitz, Daniel Brinsmead, James Larsen, Alex Johnson and Justin Bullock busing-it to Benalla

The Australian National University School of Music Contemporary Music Ensemble travelled to Benalla, 25 -27 October, to present a performance, 5.30 – 6.45 pm, 26 October, Benalla Art Gallery , as part of the ‘Engaging Visions’ exhibition currently showing at the Gallery. Seven musicians/composers presented a work conceived especially for the exhibition. Inspiration for the performance repertoire has come from the landscape around Benalla and its historical and cultural heritage. Tor Fromhr, Head of Strings, ANU School of Music, directs the Ensemble and  joined his students in the world premier event.

Robyn, one of the Engaging Visions artists at work during the Art Workshop 13 Oct

Robyn, one of the Engaging Visions artists at work during the Art Workshop 13 Oct

Art Workshop collaboration 13 Oct - participants and teachers at Lake Mokoan

Art Workshop collaboration 13 Oct - participants and teachers at Lake Mokoan

Tree planting with the Regent Honeyeater Project

Tree planting with the Regent Honeyeater Project

The Keeper of the Strathbogies. East Lima. 

John Reid.  21st August, 2009

There are no signposts. The track from the picnic spot at Moonie Moonie Creek is its own advertisement. A trail of black soil shaped by the fantastic treads of contemporary footwear draws the eye to a formidable slope at the edge of the Strathbogie Ranges. No need for a mud map. The footpath meanders through the eucalypt forest like the passage of Indian ink on crumpled paper. School children shepherded by teachers with abseiling ropes, stern bushwalkers with timetables and trim packs, family groups in need of therapy have taken this route to …

Partway up the incline there is a perfect place to take breath. The path fans out to become a rest area with ample fresh air cut-on-site by hundreds of lanceolate leaves that hang overhead. The proposal to pause is also forcefully put by several granite boulders – massive forms that pull with their own gravity on the imagination. At a respectful distance, the undergrowth resumes its vigor.  Botanical chaos camouflages a cosmos of miniature life. For the observant, there are lookout points to faraway places.

Here, at the resting place, in the midst of this cascading landscape, is the perfect position for a gate. It’s not a typical gate. It has no latch; there are no hinges; there is no fence. Consequently it is easy (especially if your body is focused on the thrill of free-fall; or moving briskly to the top) to walk through the gate unaware that a boundary has been crossed. Fortunately, this gate, such as it is, has a Keeper.

The Keeper of the Gate is also easy to overlook. This is no failing on the Keeper’s part for it is not the Keeper’s role to confront or obstruct. The Keeper stands ground for no other reason than for being-so and knowing-so. The Keeper of the Gate on this side of the Strathbogies is manifest as a mountain face.

Keeper for Web Site

Keeper of the Strathbogies. East Lima

Were it not for this anthropomorphic rock the idea of a gate keeper would rarely, if ever, arise; and hence the awareness of a gate itself; and in turn, by its realization, that a boundary exists; and that one enters into ‘another place’ when the boundary is crossed.

Naturally, the mountain face that signifies the Keeper of the Gate does not perceive the world through its crudely rendered sensory organs. The eyes, mere slits, have been sealed since its first appearance. Delicate tissue like our eyes is of no use on a mountain face. There is a faint suggestion of a nose or the place where it might have been. In all probability it was cast aside aeons ago to cheat the inevitable attention of vandals. The lower lip survives, cracked and weathered, still protruding from the formation of an ancient utterance that was never delivered. The ears, flattened by a grinding birth, are clogged with an infusion of flesh-pink quartz.

In the light of these observations it would be a mistake to regard the mountain face, the apparition of the Keeper of the Gate, as nothing but an unknowing mask. There is a matrix of igneous minerals that links every point of the face to the vast mountain core that extends for kilometres into the Earth – billions upon billions of disciplined crystals jostling for action. The vibrations from every footstep that passes through the gate, passes by the Gate Keeper, and crosses over the boundary, are registered in every detail. Maintaining this register is the business of the Keeper of the Gate.

All animal incursions into the Strathbogies are monitored by a guild of Gate Keepers. The ledger of movement is sublimated in the plant life that the mountain supports. A human footstep provides energy for a flower head of grass. A breath might settle in a bog and add to the growth ring of a gum. The warmth of a touch might be assigned to sprout a rare orchid. When animals depart the Strathbogies there are no deductions. Should a creature die on one of its ridges, in the shelter of a valley or somewhere in between, the nearest Keeper takes note. A tremor, like a feathering of kettledrums, continues the heart rhythm for an extra beat. The Strathbogie Ranges settle a notch into the crust of the Earth.

Engaging Visions A Benalla Field Study
10th – 31st October 2009

Download the invitation here.

To be officially opened Saturday 10th October at 3pm with a special performance by Aria Stone.  The Mayor of Benalla Rural City Council, Cr Bill Hill and the Benalla Art Gallery Board cordially invite you to the opening of: The Benalla Field Study was a collaboration with the Benalla Art Gallery and is part of the Engaging Visions Research Project – an initiative
of The Australian National University and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority with financial support from the Australian Research Council.

ENTRY IS FREE Open daily 10am to 5pm. Cafe open daily 10am to 4pm
Bridge Street, Benalla, Victoria, 3672
T: (03) 5762 3027 E:gallery@benalla.vic.gov.au W: www.benallaartgallery.com
Benalla Art Gallery