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Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns


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Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

Thea Costantino | Rebecca Dagnall | Tarryn Gill


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Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

Revenge Joey, Rebecca Dagnall , 2015.


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You boast about your city, Perth But Marble Bar Is the only spot that’s Heaven on Earth Sweet Marble Bar

Where pleasantly the moments flow And gentle breezes softly blow And strenuous work is quite ‘de-trop’ At Marble Bar… Anon

Bride, Thea Costantino, 2015.


Bedazzle – Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns presents new

The first stage of the project saw the artists travel to the iconic outback town of Marble Bar, renowned as ‘Australia’s hottest town’, located 1,500 km north of Perth in the remote East Pilbara. The artists spent a week in and around the town during March 2015, shooting at evocative locations including the still-operational Comet Gold Mine. In mid-2015, FORM supported Rebecca Dagnall in a return visit to the town to further develop her works for the project.

FORM thanks the host communities for their generosity and hospitality, and looks forward to sharing the outcomes of the artists’ residencies with them when the exhibition tours in 2017.

Mollie Hewitt & Andrew Nicholls Curators

Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

The participating artists are all renowned for their narrative use of the photographic medium in exploring and critiquing Australian nationalism and post-colonial history. FORM invited them to turn their attention to some of Western Australia’s most haunting remote landscapes, and draw upon the State’s evocative gold rush past.

Bedazzle – photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns has grown from FORM’s artists’ residency program, that seeks to link Western Australia’s metropolitan community with the State’s regions. It particularly sought to build upon a decade of professional development for the photographic community of the Pilbara. The project residencies incorporated artists’ talks and workshops in Marble Bar and KalgoorlieBoulder, as well as FORM’s Spinifex Hill Studios in South Hedland, allowing the artists to engage with artists and creatives in each location.

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work by Western Australian artists Thea Costantino, Rebecca Dagnall and Tarryn Gill, developed through a series of residencies in the Pilbara and Goldfields-Esperance regions during 2015 and 2016. The exhibition takes the State’s gold rush past as its point of departure for a compelling and darkly humorous exploration of the Western Australian regional gothic.

In March 2016, a second Bedazzle residency took place in the Goldfields-Esperance region at the invitation of the Goldfields Arts Centre. Basing themselves in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western Australia’s most famous gold town, the artists were able to develop works in a number of the region’s mining communities. The development of works was aided by the community, many of whom offered the artists suggestions for shooting locations, or shared local folklore and ghost stories to reference. The artists produced work at sites in and nearby Kambalda, Menzies, Coolgardie, and the eerie ghost town of Gwalia, in addition to Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s York Hotel, an icon of the town’s affluent Victorian past.


Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns B E D A Z Z L E ~ Tarryn Gill, Rebecca Dagnall and Thea Costantino shooting outside Marble Bar, 2015. Photograph by Andrew Nicholls.


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An Embarrassment of Riches Rock Guardian (5), Tarryn Gill, 2015.

“Around the search for gold there has always clung the glamour of romance. From that far-off moment when the lustre of the king of metals met the eye of the first prospector, the dominion of gold may be said to have commenced...no other industry in which brains, money, and human energy are at work is so prolific in dramatic surprises as gold mining. For a single stroke of the pick may have the same efficacy in changing a condition of poverty into one of luxury and affluence as the waft of a fairy’s wand…In the history of Western Australia, there is no chapter to compare in interest with that relating to the achievements of the indomitable prospector for gold...” P.W.H. Thiel, Twentieth Century Impressions of Western Australia, 1901


Broadly inspired by this legacy, Bedazzle saw three leading Western Australian artists, Thea Costantino, Rebecca Dagnall and Tarryn Gill, undertake residencies in a number of the State’s gold mining towns during 2015 and 2016. The project grew from a decade of FORM’s photography programming in the Pilbara, which had largely focused on the landscape genre in response to the region’s spectacular environment. Eager to showcase a more conceptual engagement with the medium, we selected artists who we felt would be well placed to weave darkly comedic narratives around this context of a society that, some would say, had sold its soul in exchange for wealth from beneath the earth.

Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

Western Australians owe gold a debt. The founding of the Swan River Colony in 1829 was such a monumental failure that within two decades what was always intended to be a free settlement was changed, at the request of its struggling agriculturalists, into a penal colony, out of sheer desperation for manual labour. 2 It was only the discovery of gold in Halls Creek in 1885 that - for better or worse - transformed the fortunes of the languishing outpost. Further finds in Southern Cross, Cue, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie soon followed, triggering Australia’s second great gold rush. The State’s meagre population more than quadrupled during the ensuing decade. 3

Ironically, this was exactly what previous generations of Europeans had always expected from terra australis incognita, the mythical ‘great southern land’ thought to exist somewhere in the vast stretch of uncharted ocean between Africa and South America during Classical antiquity. This speculative continent was assumed to be a paradise on earth, heaving with natural resources above and below its ground and waters. 4 It would take the fledgling colony a few decades to discover the truth of these ruminations, but once we did, there was no stopping us. Gold was followed by iron ore, iron ore by oil, oil by nickel, and nickel by gas, alongside petroleum, aluminium, bauxite, copper, lead, zinc, coal, diamonds, tin, salt, asbestos, and uranium. Each new discovery would trigger a fresh cycle of boom and bust, transforming the culture and landscape of the State in its stead, with almost clockwork monotony every three decades or so. 5

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Few materials, if any, have captivated the human imagination more fervently than gold. Throughout history, and across the globe, it has infected us with its ‘fever’ like no other substance. Tomb artefacts from seven millennia ago suggest that its appeal prefigures recorded history, and medieval monarchs obsessively sought alchemists capable of conjuring it from more humble materials. Its allure far exceeds its scarcity which, though significant - it is speculated there is only enough of it in the world to produce a 20 metre-wide cube 1 - is arguably not pertinent enough to warrant its enduring status as a marker of the global economy. This ongoing fascination inspired Bedazzle, which like all of FORM’s programming, seeks to articulate uniquely Western Australian stories that have broader historical and cultural relevance.


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The artists and curatorial team first travelled to Marble Bar for several days in early 2015, meeting with the community and shooting work at local landmarks. This included operational and abandoned mine sites, the iconic Iron Clad Hotel, and the Catholic Church of Christ the King that sombrely overlooks the main street, as well as the town’s dramatic East Pilbara surroundings. For Tarryn Gill, this evocative landscape provided an opportunity to reflect on the mythical associations of gold, cemented in the human psyche from childhood through its ubiquitous appearance in fairytales. Gill’s aesthetic is particularly influenced by films she loved in her own youth, such as Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Return to Oz, and The Neverending Story, works aimed at children that nonetheless strongly evoke the uncanny through a mix of the playful and the sinister. Her Bedazzle works similarly depict a number of vaguely menacing ‘guardians’ that the artist identified in the landscape in and around Marble Bar, created through the simple placement of fairylights, or through matrixing ‘faces’ in rocks. Produced amidst the town’s trademark searing temperatures and a constant barrage of flies, for Gill the works evoke the fevered state of a heataddled prospector, yearning for protection from an unimaginably harsh environment. Similarly hallucinatory, Gill’s other works for the show translate two of the State’s largest gold nuggets, Kalgoorlie’s ‘Golden Eagle’ and Marble Bar’s ‘Bobby Dazzler’ (the exhibition’s namesake) into soft fabric sculptures. Inspired by the collection of gold-embellished early trade union banners at the Western Australian Museum, Kalgoorlie/ Boulder, they transform the inelegant lumps of metal into sparkling personifications of opulence and greed. Their toy-like appearance parodies the sentimental drive to name gold nuggets which formed part of the broader symbolic language of nationalism, particularly pertinent in regional communities during the leadup to Federation, when the Bobby Dazzler was unearthed. 6

As with Gill, childhood memory has informed Thea Costantino’s Bedazzle works. For several years her practice has explored the role of minor players in violent histories, with a mixture of sympathy and distaste. A major body of photographic work, Daughters of the Empire (2014), teased out the position of women during British colonialism, a group who were often complicit, but are seldom acknowledged in the grand narratives of imperialism with their allusions of stiff-upper-lipped, rapier-wielding masculinity. A recent body of work produced in response to the ANZAC centenary, Foreign Soil (2015), allowed Costantino to turn this critical yet ambiguous gaze inward, exploring her family history by way of her grandfather who fought for Italy in the First World War. Following directly from that series, Bedazzle allowed the Kalgoorlie-born, Kambalda-raised artist to enter even more personal territory by revisiting the landscape that first shaped her aesthetic, for the first time in nearly three decades.


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Opposite Cabbage Wife, Thea Costantino, 2016.

While imperialist narrative is largely masculinised, the myth and iconography of nationalism frequently feminises; consider the anthropomorphism of Brittania, Mother Russia and the German Motherland, or Dorothea Mackellar’s sunburnt country with her beauties and her terrors, ‘all you who have not loved her, you will not understand’. 7 Goldfields bush poet E.G. ‘Dryblower’ Murphy similarly compared Western Australia to a slumbering fairytale princess awoken by Bailey’s discovery of gold in Coolgardie, in his Ten Years Ago (1902), whose seemingly-charming naïveté is somewhat undone by the implied violence of its curtain-hurling finale: Ten years ago Westralia Slept A Cinderella lone and shy, Within whose veins no ardour lived For whom there gilded not the sky. Ten years ago she walked and yawned Unconscious of her destined fate. Ten years ago her heyday dawned To lift her to her higher state. Her wondrous wealth bewitched the West; Towards her turned the human flow When Bailey back the curtain hurled Ten years ago... 8

Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

Above Città Fantasma 3, Thea Costantino, 2016


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Costantino has created her own evocations of Westralian femininity, a Bride and Cabbage Wife, inspired by a photograph in the Marble Bar Museum of a local couple admiring a homegrown pumpkin. Read together, these works present a humorous narrative redolent with misguided hope and crestfallen resignation, but in the Goldfields things turned darker. Home Coming is a vision of monstrous childhood, Costantino herself portraying a ghoulish figure perched on a burnt out car, abandoned a few meters from her childhood home. This photographic series is echoed by a trio of wax busts portraying female characters variously embellished with flies, an oversized maggot, and syphilitic scars rendered in gold leaf, jokingly refered to by the artist as the advanced stages of gold fever. Meanwhile the eerie ghost town of Gwalia inspired a series of claustrophobic, fractured

panoramic interiors evoking the fast editing of a horror movie set piece. These works represent an intriguing new direction for Costantino, created almost instinctively while pondering the stigmatisation of Italian immigrants during the gold rush. They present a series of interiors eerily devoid of human presence, yet visceral in their depictions of dust, grime, and wear and tear, evoking the harsh and dreary physicality of life on the goldfields. Also inspired by the sometimes brutal realities of life in the bush, Rebecca Dagnall’s Bedazzle works continue her exploration of regional Australia as a site of unresolved narrative and potential threat. Her various images of native and introduced fauna track the influence of non-Indigenous human presence on the regions, a presence which was in decline prior to the discovery of gold, and only endured, and dominated, because of it.


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Top Daughters of Midas 1, Thea Costantino, 2016 ABOVE Bobby Dazzler, Tarryn Gill, 2016 Right Extract from The Sunday Times, January 18, 1931, p. 1. Opposite Roberta and Bluey O’Brien in their vegetable garden in Marble Bar, ca 1940. Marble Bar Museum/State Library of Western Australia 112791PD.


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LEFT Angel Cow, Rebecca Dagnall, 2016. Opposite On the Stairs, Rebecca Dagnall, 2016.

Like Gill’s rock guardians, Dagnall’s works conflate the inanimate with bodies to sinister effect: a decaying hide echoes the undulations of a hillside, piano keys become grinning teeth, and faces and limbs emerge from the background of seemingly-uninhabited views. Though at times gruesome, Dagnall’s exquisite photographic sensibility transforms the ruination of the outback into sumptuous images; upon first showing us her works for the show, she gleefully noted that her Angel Cow was ‘bedazzled with flies’. Alongside her stark memento mori, Dagnall presents a series of more fanciful works relating ambiguous tales of the supernatural. Her image of a ghost manifesting on the staircase of the York Hotel documents one of numerous buildings on Kalgoorlie’s iconic Hannan Street that is popularly rumoured to be haunted, while evoking the fading opulence of the gold rush era. Meanwhile her kangaroo revenge narrative was inspired by the discovery of a dead marsupial strung up in bushland near an abandoned mine site outside Marble Bar. The series features a cameo by ‘Boing Boing’, an orphaned joey adopted by Thomas Fox, proprietor of the Iron Clad Hotel.

As Dagnall notes, ‘In the history of Western Australia’s gold towns a Gothic sensibility reveals itself ’, 9 and Bedazzle was curated with this in mind. The romance and heartache that inevitably seems to accompany the search for gold provides such locations with an historical lineage rich in Gothic tropes - high melodrama and tragedy, unsolved mysteries and disappearances, power won and lost, and the disruptive emergence of the past when one is not expecting it...all framed, of course, within a sublime and awe-inducing landscape. 10 The Gothic is frequently aligned with periods of cultural transition: the shift from the medieval to the Renaissance for example, and the eighteenth century expansion of British colonialism into the ‘far east’, or the nineteenth century fin de siècle, with its growing secularism in the face of the industrial revolution. The towns visited during the development of the exhibition are similarly poised between their century-old roots in our first resources boom, and everything that has transpired since, including the current downturn in the State’s broader mining sector.


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Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns


Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

1. Swift, R. (2014), ‘Stop the Gold Rush’, New Internationalist, Sept 2014, issue 475, pp. 12-15

Andrew Nicholls, 2016

8. Quoted in Poems of the Pipeline, National Trust of Australia, retrieved 10 July, 2016 from http://www. valuingheritage.com.au

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Each of the Bedazzle artists is well known for their critical take on the historical tropes of nationalism, be it colonial iconography in Costantino’s Daughters of the Empire series, Dagnall’s ongoing problematising of the sentimental landscape tradition, or Gill and Costantino’s Heart of Gold collaborations with Pilar Mata Dupont, which mimicked the sinister kitsch of wartime propaganda. Bedazzle allowed each of them to focus this interest on a nationalistic narrative whose relevance endures, and is indeed central to our understanding of Western Australia and its global significance. As such the works represent a deeply considered non-Indigenous response to a landscape and post-colonial history fraught with conflict, greed and disappointment, but which nonetheless continue to unearth dazzling riches.

Maggot Guts, Rebecca Dagnall, 2016.

2. White M. (2000), ‘Agricultural Societies in Colonial Western Australia 1831-70’, History of Education, 29:1, 3-28, DOI: 10.1080/004676000284463, p. 20 3. ‘Population by Sex, States and Territories, 31 December 1788 onwards’, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008 4. Cameron, J.M.R. (1974), ‘Western Australia, 1616-1829: An Antipodean Paradise’, The Geographical Journal, 140/3, 1974, pp. 376-377 5. For a comprehensive summary of the State’s post-gold rush growth, see Appleyard, R.T., ‘Western Australia: Economic and demographic growth, 1850-1914’ in Stannage, C.T. (ed), A New History of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, 1981 6. Lawrence, S., ‘At Home in the Bush: Material Culture and Australian Nationalism’, in Lawrence, S. (ed) Archaeologies of the British: Explorations of Identity in Great Britain and its Colonies 1600-1945, Routledge, London, 2003, p. 211 7. Mackellar, D., My Country, 1904-1911

9. Artist’s statement, 2016 10. For a more detailed summary of Gothic tropes, see Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s The Coherence of Gothic Conventions and George Haggerty’s Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form


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My works for Bedazzle reference anthropomorphic landscape illustrations which became popular around the 17th Century, works where artists saw themselves

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in the vast landscapes that enveloped them...

Pilbara Guide (2), Tarryn Gill, 2015.


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...when photographing Marble Bar, I realised that this kind of dream-like imagery had been imprinted on my mind in childhood through much later incarnations of the style in pop culture. I cite the 1985 film Return to Oz, in which the Nome King and his minions shapeshift in the rock and precious metals of the earth, watching the humans above them and protecting their kingdom. I saw the Pilbara landscape as having this same kind of magic – it held great power and I felt it sensed our presence. I found myself capturing ‘guardians’ of the landscape who appeared to us as travel guides and protectors in the harsh environment, beings that sit in the space between the earthly and other-worldly.

Tarryn Gill, 2016


Pilbara Guide, Tarryn Gill, 2015.

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While in residence, we learned horror stories from locals about being lost in the landscape while searching for gold and waiting to be found and guided home. This is easily done as the land is so vast, it often looks exactly the same in every direction. I imagine that when prospecting, the relentless heat and lack of food and water might conjure wild hallucinations of these land guardians, and that gold upon discovery might seem to come to life.

Tarryn Gill, 2016

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Marble Bar

Founded in 1893, Marble Bar was named after a local mineral deposit, an impressive jasper bar initially mistaken for marble that runs through the Coongan River 5 km to the west of the township. 2 Today it sits in the vast and remote East Pilbara – the world’s largest shire at a little under 380,000 square km. 3

2. Marble Bar Tourist Association, retrieved 10 July, 2016 from www.marblebar.org.au

A number of sizeable gold nuggets were discovered in the town during the late 1800s. This included the 332 oz ‘General Gordon’, the 333 oz ‘Little Hero’ and the 413 oz ‘Bobby Dazzler’, which inspired the title of this exhibition, and held the record of the State’s largest gold nugget for four decades, until the discovery of Kalgoorlie’s ‘Golden Eagle’ in 1931. 4 Boasting a population of 5,000 at the height of the 1890s gold rush, Marble Bar’s population has dwindled to fewer than 200 today. Nonetheless it is rich in local folklore and idiosyncratic myth. Its notoriety endures almost a century after achieving its dubious world record, with the town still regularly used as a point of comparison for heatwaves elsewhere in Australia. 5 Its high temperatures and iconic Iron Clad Hotel featured in a national television commercial for a brand of iced tea in the months leading up to the opening of Bedazzle at FORM Gallery.

LEFT: Documentation of Marble Bar residency by Andrew Nicholls and Greg Taylor, March, 2015.

1. Marble Bar heatwave, 1923-1924, Australian Climate Extremes, Bureau of Meteorology, retrieved 10 July, 2016 from www.bom.gov.au

3. Shire of East Pilbara, retrieved 10 July, 2016 from www.eastpilbara.wa.gov.au 4. The Sunday Times, 18 January, 1931, p. 1 5. See for example Collins, B., ABC Northwest, 5 December 2015, retrieved 10 July, 2016 from abc. net.au; The West Australian, January 6, 2015, p. 1; and Brook, B., news.com.au, 12 February, 2016, retrieved 10 July, 2016 All other historical information c/o the Marble Bar Museum

Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

Gold can still be found in the surrounding landscape, and the Bedazzle artists were shown a number of small nuggets recently unearthed by a local prospector during their residency.

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Situated in Nyamal country approximately 1,500 km north of Perth, Marble Bar is the quintessential outback town. Known worldwide as ‘Australia’s hottest town’ following its unsurpassed world record heat wave of 160 days over 37.8 °C during the summer of 19231924, it has never recorded a temperature below 0 °C. 1


Rock Guardian (7), Tarryn Gill, 2015.

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…A blistered, blasted, burnt up hole Is Marble Bar The sky above – a barren scroll O’er Marble Bar Set in a barren broken range Hades would make a pleasant change From Marble Bar Anon


Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns B E D A Z Z L E ~ Thea Costantino, Greg Taylor, Mollie Hewitt, Rebecca Dagnall and Tarryn Gill shooting outside Marble Bar, 2015. Photograph by Andrew Nicholls.


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B E D A Z Z L E ~ Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns Above Souvenir postcard depicting ‘The Golden Eagle’, State Library of Western Australia, 4942_5. Background Golden Eagle, Tarryn Gill, 2016.


Home Coming, Thea Costantino, 2015.

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Damn Coolgardie, damn the track, Damn it there and damn it back; Damn the country, damn the weather Damn the Goldfields altogther ANON, circa 1890


“The digital collages of the Città fantasma series respond to the abandoned Gwalia town site, a predominantly Italian mining settlement set up by Herbert Hoover. The images reference the role of Italian labour in Western Australian history and Australia’s complex relationship with migration, but also construct an impression of disconnection and dislocation that relates to the inherited legacies of migration for subsequent generations. “

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Thea Costantino, 2016

Città Fantasma 3, Thea Costantino, 2016.


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The Goldfields

Goldfields-Esperance is the largest of Western Australia’s nine regions, occupying approximately a third of the State’s landmass, with a population of only 60,000. 1 Aboriginal people have populated this vast area for tens of thousands of years, and though occasionally visited by European explorers, were relatively undisturbed until the spread of colonial pastoralism in the 1870s, with many communities only first encountering nonIndigenous culture during the twentieth century. Little settlement took place in the region prior to Arthur Bayley and William Ford’s discovery of gold in Coolgardie in 1892. 2 Their substantial claim was soon eclipsed by Paddy Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Daniel Shea’s accidental find of 100 ounces of alluvial nuggets 50 kilometers to the east the following year. 3 This site was soon worldrenowned as Kalgoorlie’s ‘Golden Mile’, reputedly the richest square mile on earth, and the catalyst for Western Australia’s status as primary gold producing State of the British Commonwealth. 4 Many of Kalgoorlie’s first residents travelled by foot from the ports of Fremantle or Esperance, a journey of several weeks in almost unimaginably inhospitable conditions, with poor hygiene, inadequate medical supplies and scarce food and water to contend with upon arrival. However, by the turn of the century the town was an affluent regional centre boasting 93 hotels, eight breweries and a diverse immigrant population. This diversity would fuel occasional xenophobic rivalry, culminating in “one of the more dramatic examples of civic disorder in Australian history”, 5 the Kagoorlie riots of 1934. As in most gold rush towns, gender imbalance (approximately four men to every woman in 1901) 6 also contributed to social tension, with the infamous Hay Street red light district opened in 1902 to cater to the town’s substantial single male population, along

with a ‘containment policy’ for prostitution, which remained in effect until the 1990s. In 1989 Kalgoorlie merged, somewhat controversially, with neighboring Boulder, and the numerous smaller claims operating out of the ‘golden mile’ were amalgamated into Australia’s largest open-cut mine, the Fimiston Open Pit, colloquially known as ‘The Super Pit’. The name is apt; at 3.5 km in length, it is large enough to be seen from space. Following the foundation of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, numerous smaller mining communities were established throughout the region as further gold and nickel discoveries were made throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The township of Gwalia, located 230 km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, was established in 1896 as a workers’ camp to support the Sons of Gwalia gold mine, 7 with ‘Gwalia’, the ancient name for Wales, selected in honour of a Coolgardie shopkeeper of Welsh origin who funded the initial claim.


During its heyday Sons of Gwalia was the State’s largest mine outside Kalgoorlie, and the deepest in Australia. From 18971898 it was famously managed by future US president Herbert Hoover, whose policiy of employing Italian immigrants, to “... hold the property in case of a general strike, and...[to] reduce wages” 8 gave the town its substantial Italian population. However the township has been largely deserted since the mine’s closure in 1963, and now functions primarily as a tourist destination.

4. ibid, Quartermain & McGowan, pp. 11-12

1. Goldfields-Esperance Regional Investment Blueprint, p. 19, retrieved 10 July, 2016 from http://www.gedc.wa.gov.au

8. ‘Golden West Discovery Trail’ didactic panel in Gwalia townsite, sighted 11 March, 2016

2. Battye, J.S., Western Australia: a History from its Discovery to the Inauguration of the Commonwealth, Oxford, 1924, p. 407

All other historical information c/o the Western Australian Museum Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

5. Bertola, P. & Pascoe, R., ‘Italian Miners and the Second Generation ‘Britishers’ at Kalgoorlie, Australia’, Social History Volume 10, Issue 1, 1985, p 9 6. 1901 census data, Fraser, M. Census of Western Australia taken for the night of 31 March, 1901, Perth, 1903, pp. 18-26 7. ibid, Quartermain & McGowan, p. 12

3. Qartermaine, M.K. & McGowan, E. ‘A Historical Account of the Development of Mining in Western Australia’, in Prider, R.T. (ed) Mining in Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 1979, pp.1-23 and Spillman, K., A Rich Endownment: Government and Mining in Western Australia 1829-1994, University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 1993, p. 70 Above: Documentation of Goldfields/Esperance residency by Mollie Hewitt and Andrew Nicholls, March, 2016.


The Pub, Rebecca Dagnall , 2016.

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towns a Gothic sensibility reveals itself. The idea of a land rich with gold, ready for the taking is layered with a history that holds secrets close. The memorial plaques of Marble Bar allude to a past that is both told and untold — ‘died of heat exhaustion’, ‘accidentally killed ’, ‘died from spear wound ’, ‘A miner found dead in his camp’, ‘killed by Aborigines’. Drawing on both the real and the imagined narratives of the gold rush era, I am interested in stories that are harder to find — that sit in the Australian psyche like shadows.

The past lives on in art and memory, but it is not static: it shifts and changes as the present throws its shadow backwards. (Margaret Drabble)

Rebecca Dagnall, 2016

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In the history of Western Australia’s gold


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Thea Costantino

LEFT Thea Costantino outside Marble Bar, 2015. Photograph by Andrew Nicholls. OPPOSITE Home Coming, Thea Costantino, 2016. Ancestor I, Thea Costantino, 2012.

Dr. Thea Costantino’s practice includes drawing, sculpture, video, photography, written works of fiction and non-fiction, and musical libretti and performances. She has exhibited and undertaken residency projects within Australia, Europe and the United States both in a solo capacity and collaboratively. Broadly, Costantino’s work investigates the representation and memorialisation of the past: the use and abuse of history, the continuing influence of the past on the present, and the ways in which repressed or forgotten material can resurface. Histories of modernity and colonialism are of particular interest to the artist, and she frequently employs grotesque aesthetics as a means of exploring uncomfortable or marginalised aspects of these narratives.

Costantino is especially interested in the ways in which Australian identity is constructed and reinvented through popular memory. In her 2015 solo exhibition Foreign Soil she revisited the ANZAC legend to offer an alternative narrative for the centenary of the First World War. Taking her grandfather’s experience as an Italian soldier as a starting point, Costantino reflected on the international tragedy of the war and the legacy of migrant histories within Australia that exist alongside the ANZAC story. By investigating themes of belonging, estrangement, and the construction of cultural memory, the exhibition critiqued the political forces shaping the war and its commemoration. Similarly, in the 2014 solo exhibition Daughters of the Empire she focused on the history of Australian colonialism and the complicity of women under the British Empire. Costantino was awarded the Galerie Düsseldorf/Curtin University Postgraduate Scholarship in 2010. In 2011 she won the coveted Qantas Foundation Encouragement of Contemporary Australian Art Award and in 2013, the $15,000 Hutchins Art Prize. In 2015 she received a MidCareer Creative Fellowship from the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts. Her work is held in collections including The Art Gallery of Western Australia, City of Perth, City of Joondalup, Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, Murdoch University and John Curtin Gallery. She works as a Lecturer at Curtin University.


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Rebecca Dagnall

LEFT Rebecca Dagnall on Lake Ballard, near Menzies, 2016. Photograph by Andrew Nicholls. OPPOSITE Lynched, Rebecca Dagnall, 2015.

Rebecca Dagnall is a photographic artist, a current PHD candidate at RMIT University, Melbourne, and a lecturer at Curtin University of Technology, Perth. She was raised in the suburbs of Perth, and the iconography of Western Australian suburbia has been a major influence on her art practice. In recent years she has expanded her focus to explore narratives of anxiety within the Australian bush. Dagnall graduated from Curtin University, in 2003 with Honours, and held her first solo exhibition at Turner Galleries Perth, in 2009. She has since been invited to show around Australia and internationally, including participating in a major exhibition of Western Australian photography at the University of Western Australia’s Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, Transient States, in 2009, Southbank at Horsham Gallery in Victoria in 2012, and

the touring exhibition Testing Ground, curated by Julie Gough in 2013. Her work has been exhibited at Australia’s most prestigious public photography galleries including the Australian Centre for Photography, the Monash Gallery of Art, Queensland Centre for Photography as part of the main exhibition program for Foto Freo in 2012. In late 2011 she held major solo exhibitions at the Queensland Centre for Photography and the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney. In recent years she has shown internationally, during the Arles Photographic Festival in France, the Lodz Fotofestiwal in Poland, at Anchorage House in London, and in Imagining the Everyday, an exhibition of Australian photographers’ work curated by Alasdair Foster in 2010 for the Pingyao Photographic Festival in China. Dagnall’s work is represented in several collections, including the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the City of Joondalup, the City of Victoria Park, and Royal Perth Hospital.


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Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns


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Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns

Tarryn Gill

LEFT Tarryn Gill at the Marble Bar jasper deposit, 2015. Photograph by Andrew Nicholls. OPPOSITE Rock Guardian (10), Tarryn Gill, 2016. Thea Costantino outside Marble Bar, 2015. Photograph by Andrew Nicholls.

Tarryn Gill is a Western Australian artist working across the mediums of photography, film, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance. Over the last fifteen years her practice has moved rhizomatically outwards from visual art through film, theatre, choreography, costume and set design. She has been crossing these boundaries dragging characters, references, materials and sensibilities with her. Through her solo and collaborative practices, Gill has exhibited and undertaken residency projects across Australia, in Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. Notably, she has shown work at the Akademie der Kunste, Berlin; in the 17th Biennale of Sydney, 2010; at the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; and at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Art Basel, Miami. She is represented in numerous Australian collections including Artbank, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the City of Perth, John Curtin Gallery, Kerry Stokes, Queensland Art Gallery, Stadiums Queensland and Wesfarmer Arts.

Gill’s 10-year collaboration with Pilar Mata Dupont has been widely recognised for their theatrical, performed, photographic and filmic works. In 2010 they won the coveted $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize and in 2011 held a retrospective, STADIUM, at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. In 2015 Gill participated in the group exhibition An Internal Difficulty: Australian Artists at the Freud Museum London at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. She undertook a residency at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and Brighton Pavilion, UK, and was a 2015 recipient of the David & Margery Edwards Trust, allowing her to spend three months in residence at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York City. In 2016 she participated in The 2016 Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art: Magic Object, resulting in numerous acquisitions by the Art Gallery of South Australia, and was commissioned by Artbank to produce a large-scale sculpture for their collection.


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Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns


Photographing Western Australia’s Gold Towns B E D A Z Z L E ~ Tarryn Gill and Thea Costantino shooting near Comet Gold Mine, Marble Bar, 2015. Photograph by Andrew Nicholls.


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For further information please contact project curators Mollie Hewitt and Andrew Nicholls: mollie@form.net.au | andrew@form.net.au (08) 9226 2799 | www.form.net.au

Curated by

Principal Partner

Gallery Partner

Regional Partners

Government Partners FORM is supported by the Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments.

Hospitality Partner

Bedazzle catalogue web final  
Bedazzle catalogue web final