“Retracing John Oxley and the Macquarie​ expedition” at WPCC, Dubbo

8 . Oct . 2019

Over the last 8 months I’ve been working on a new exhibition for the Western Plains Cultural Center (WPCC) in Dubbo, NSW. The purpose of this project is to portray a cross-section of people that I encounter as a re-trace the journey of English explorer John Oxley and his Macquarie expedition.

The WPCC have selected this project to feature in its HomeGround series at the end of 2018. HomeGround is a professional development program that provides regional artists with the opportunity to exhibit in a high-profile exhibition space.

In 1818 John Oxley embarked on an expedition from Bathurst, moving through the areas now known as Dubbo and Tamworth, and finally trekking down the Hastings River to what would become the white settlement of Port Macquarie.

My goal for the project is to prompt the audience to stop and reflect on who I encounter on this journey today, the communities they are part of, and what their stories may be. I also want the audience to go further and think about who John Oxley and his expedition would have encountered 200 years ago, to think about the changes that have happened over this time.

After much planning, in June 2019 I started to take photographs for the exhibition and I visited Walcha and Tamworth for the first time since arriving in Australia. Two weeks ago I travelled to Dubbo to meet curator Mariam Abboud and visit the gallery. This was a great experience with lots of great feedback and food for thought as I continue with the project.

The journey so far has been challenging yet rewarding. I’ve met people from all walks of life. From newly arrived migrants to prominent members of the Aboriginal communities, they all shared theirs stories with me. This gave me a broader vision of what regional Australia looks like, beyond the stereotypes that we are often exposed to. 

It’s been a privilege to work with these different communities along the way. I’m learning more about the different cultures and their varying views on being photographed and use of the pictures. I find it very rewarding to work with these people and scratch beneath the surface, to really learn about their cultures and stories.

I can’t share any of the project photographs yet, but here are some photos I took on my trips to Tamworth and Dubbo. They are more of a visual diary for me and I hope you enjoy them 🙂

There’ll be a few more trips over coming months, including further west to Warren, NSW. 

It’ll be a busy 12 months working closely with the WPCC curatorial team to deliver a great show. My exhibition will be on at WPCC at the end of 2020!