Barka: Forgotten River tells story of Darling River


Sunraysia is the fitting location this Thursday for the launch of a new exhibition that portrays the beauty of the Darling River and the communities that rely on it.

Barka: The Forgotten River showcases the work of artists Badger Bates and Justine Muller and will be officially opened by fifth generation Menindee grazier Kate McBride this Thursday 5 December at 6pm.

Kate, 21, recently drew widespread praise for her appearance on the ABC’s Q&A panel discussion on the impacts of the drought, where she questioned prominent politicians on their actions.

The exhibition, which was created in collaboration with the Wilcannia community, tells the story of the Barka (Darling River), which is the mother, the cultural and economic lifeblood for the Aboriginal communities who live alongside it.

Councillor for Arts and Culture Jason Modica said the exhibition will portray the beauty of a river teetering on the brink of destruction and the pride and resilience of its people.

“The subject matter that forms the basis of this exhibition will resonate with a lot of Sunraysia residents, particularly now, given the state of the Darling River and the topical discussions currently under way nationally on the health of our river systems,” Cr Modica said.

“Barka: The Forgotten River reflects the important role the Darling River plays in the lives of communities along its length, whether it be our First Peoples, who’ve relied on the river for thousands of years, or our farming communities.”

Badger Bates will be familiar to many Sunraysia residents through his strong advocacy for the Daring River. Badger is a respected Barkindji elder and artist, whose sculptures feature along the Mildura riverfront. He also has work in the Mildura Arts Centre Collection.

Justine Muller works across painting, photography, sculpture, digital and installation.

Justine’s work has been selected for many major awards, prizes and exhibitions. In 2015, her photograph, Town in Mourning, taken at Wilcannia, made Guardian Australia’s list of favourite Australian photos.

Barka: The Forgotten River will officially open this Thursday 5 December at 6pm, with a talk by the artists at Mildura Arts Centre and continue until Sunday 16 February.

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