HOW MANY PEOPLE KNOW WHERE LOCKHART RIVER IS? “DOWN SOUTH” (THAT PART OF AUSTRALIA OUTSIDE OF FNQ) I’M WILLING TO BET VERY FEW FOLKS KNOW THE ANSWER.
Once in a while, Lockhart makes the news when a cyclone comes in off the Coral Sea. Otherwise, the rest of the nation rarely hears of the place.
But in the art world, it’s a very different story. For about ten years now, Lockhart River has been one of the best known names in indigenous art. The Lockhart River Art Gang got things going in the 90s, earning an international reputation for exciting art, It’s contemporary, but inspired by tradition. It challenged the art scene to look more broadly than the better known dot paintings and “x-ray animal” images that have been “hot” items overseas for years.
Now the Lockhart River Art Centre continues that work, encouraging new and established artists to show us what they can do.
There’s plenty of inspiration in the country around Lockhart River. Iron Range National Park is home to creatures that occur nowhere else on earth. The coastal areas are stunning (you’ve got to check out Chillie Beach and Portland Roads!) and the area is full of places of great significance to the clans who live here.
Lockhart began life as a church mission. It moved a couple of times in the 20th century, notably around WW2. The town’s airport was built by the military then and was an important base during the Battle of the Coral Sea.These days, regular air services use the strip, so you can dodge the 800 bumpy kilometres of road from Cairns if you want. In the wet, you can only get here by air or sea. The roads can be closed for months.
PATRICK BUTCHER IS ONE OF THE ARTISTS AT THE LOCKHART RIVER ART CENTRE. HE’S ONE OF THE ORIGINAL ART GANG MEMBERS, A PAINTER AND PRINT MAKER WITH WORKS ON SHOW IN AUSTRALIA AND OVERSEAS. AND PATRICK USUALLY HAS A LOT OF OTHER PROJECTS ON THE GO.
AUDIO: PATRICK BUTCHER TELLS PHIL STALEY ABOUT LIFE AND MAKING ART IN LOCKHART RIVER.
You can also visit www.ciaf.com.au for info about indigenous artists taking part in the annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Peter Neal moved to Lockhart from Victoria in 2008 to become the manager of the Art Centre. He says it was an easy decision to swap the cold southern winters for the tropics.
In local language, the Centre uses the words Puuya Kuntha — “strong heart” — to describe itself and its role in this remote community. Peter says art is good for people, their culture, for the place and for its economy.
AUDIO: PETER NEAL TALKS ABOUT LOCKHART RIVER ART CENTRE
For more about the Lockhart River community check out http://www.lockhart.qld.gov.au
The site has info about accomodation and things to do on a visit to Lockhart River.