Seven Cases artwork provides powerful insight into Bonegilla migrants

Sculpture artist Yvonne George believes her new work Seven Cases at the Bonegilla rail siding on the Murray Valley Hwy is an intimate tribute in a public piece.

Seven Cases pays respect to the more than 300,000 migrants who passed through the doors of the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre between 1947 and 1971.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to a public piece that was quite intimate,” she said.

“That people that are leaving their homes and their countries with a suitcase it’s like where do you even begin to think about what you would pack?

“The devastation, the excitement, too, of a new life.”

Yvonne spent her formative years on a New Zealand sheep farm and in a small coastal town, where she became an avid collector of natural forms.

From the drying seedpods found in creek beds to the eroded, polished, and or skeletal forms washed up along the rugged west coast – the land and sea soon cluttered her room and became the inspiration behind her creative expression.

Although her own personal experience did not enter into the artwork, she did give the sculpture a lot of thought.

” What would you put in those suitcases?,” she said of her thought process.

“So my brain got working on maybe having the suitcases open with what you would find potentially in them. It developed through a lot more complicated process and then it, sort of, became more minimalist.

“And as it started heading more in that direction it felt more natural and … you don’t want to dictate what people would be bringing.”

George is encouraging the community to take in the sculpture which also falls on the High Country Rail Trail.

“I wanted people to sit here and think about if they were facing that situation what they would put in their suitcase,” she said.

“I think it will be curiosity, then they will see the text, they’ll read it, they’ll understand about Bonegilla and hopefully they’ll just sit here and comtemplate what they would do in that situation and maybe have a bit of empathy of the plight of the migrants.”

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