Art’s response to the Valley

A fossilised Kauri log excavated out of the Loy Yang open cut mine is at the centerpiece of a sensory exhibition that responds to the Latrobe Valley landscape.

The 12 million year-old log from the special collection of the Museum of Victoria is being shown in the region for the first time at the Latrobe Regional Gallery’s ‘From the Collection: Gertrude Contemporary Regional Residencies’.

Melbourne artist Lauren Berkowitz’s ‘Energy Fields’ waterfall-like eucalyptus leaf sculpture that also uses briquettes and crushed quartz, offers a heady smell of ‘Australiana’, while recordings of the City of Traralgon Band echo against the gallery’s white walls in Geoff Robinson’s ‘turn right at the palm trees…’.

The LRG exhibition is ‘Chapter Two’ for the Gertrude Contemporary Gallery project that invites artists and artists’ collectives to respond to regional galleries’ permanent collections, including Warrnambool Art Gallery and a future show at the Benalla Art Gallery.

Curator Emily Cormack said each of the artists confronted the struggles and successes between humans and reliance on the land in different ways.

“The Latrobe Valley has been the centre of food and fuel production for Melbourne’s growing population since colonial settlement and it’s this blind spot that the exhibition seeks to highlight to a national audience,” Ms Cormack said.

Artist Geoff Robinson, who responded to Colin Suggett’s ironic drawing, ‘Greetings from Electric Valley…turn right at the palm trees’ that features Morwell’s iconic former twin palms, has been working in Morwell for six months recording brass musicians playing at Hazelwood, Loy Yang and Yallourn.

Creating a ‘sonic map’ of Morwell, Mr Robinson said he wanted to explore the physical presence of the stations, a transition towards renewable energy and a social movement for change.

“I’m interested in how these buildings, these steam columns that mark the area, how can I do that through sound?” Mr Robinson said.

“I’m using sound to emphasise their position.”

The exhibition at Latrobe Regional Gallery is on show until Thursday, 20 September.