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The Big Picture and other Art.

Road Trip Day 6: 28th May 2007

Rose has so much on her must see list that we decided to stay another two nights in Broken Hill. Unfortunately our motel couldn't extend our booking so our first job was to pack everything back in the car. The town has plenty of choice for motels so we left finding a new motel room for the end of the day.

Today and tomorrow is all about galleries. Broken Hill is famous for it's art scene and this was actually the main reason for our trip here. Some of Australia's leading artists are based in this region, Pro Hart and Jack Absalom to name two (though we'll be visiting their galleries tomorrow).

First up was a trip to 'The Art Directory'. A good first stop on any art tour in this town. The Art Directory is a gallery that exhibits samples of work from a good percentage of artists in the region. Each artwork is given a number that links it to a map of how to get to that artists gallery or studio. Just pick the artists that catch your eye and grab a map and your away. A great idea.

Just up the road was 'The Silver City Art Centre'. This is a MUST if you want to see the worlds biggest painting on canvas. Known as 'The Big Picture', by artist Peter Anderson, it is 100 metres long and over 12 metres high at its highest point.

What makes this artwork special (apart from the size) is that it is an artwork 'in the round'. That is you walk into a circular room and the artwork surrounds you (or more precisely surrounds the viewing platform which is a kind of 'look out' that frames the view). It is literally like walking into a painting. As it depicts a good slice of the local landscape in panorama format it really is like being in a painted version of the real environment.

From there we drove to the main street for look in the Broken Hill Regional Gallery. This is a great place to see a range of local contemporary art as well as some impressive classical art from the the later part of the nineteenth century (I think).

The main street does have a few galleries. Rose and I stopped to look in another two before heading up to the Visitor Information Centre/Cafe and Minors Memorial that sits on top of the 'broken hill' that the town is named after. From here you can see spectacular 360 degree views of the entire region and enjoy a very good lunch or dinner. Rose and I had a very enjoyable late lunch.

Our intention had been to look through all the galleries today but time once again got away from us. So we settled for the first one on our list, Howard Steer.

Howard's gallery is also his studio and as luck would have it Howard was in and more than willing to discuss his work (and give advice to an emerging artist such as myself). If you've not seen Howard's art he paints mostly in oils and is known for his quirky bush humor. You may know about his 'Flying Doctor' artworks in which he paints a black suited doctor with with fairy wings flying around the bush delivering all manor of medical help.

Rose is a big fan of his art and asked if he was putting out a book. The good news is that he is. The bad news is that it's not available yet. Still in the process.

Howard is a self taught artist and he gives this advice to artists that have been to art school - "Whatever they told you at art school, do the opposite". Which is to say that he doesn't have much faith in art teachers as he explained. "If they knew what to do they wouldn't be teaching."

Our day ended with finding new accommodation. Our first pick was The Duke of Cornwall Inn. We had no trouble getting a room in this two storey heritage building. Carting our luggage up stairs to the room looked like it was going to be fun. Fortunately the motel staff were more than willing to lend a hand.

I'm currently writing this from the balcony of the motel which gives you a nice view down the main street on a rather pleasant evening. Tomorrow is our last full day in town. We'll be up early...we have to be...breakfast is between 7am and 8am - it comes included in the price of the room so we're having breakfast! A few more art galleries and then Wednesday we'll be on the road again.

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