On 27 September 1956 the British exploded an atomic bomb in the southern part of the Great Victoria Desert of South Australia. The place would become known as Maralinga. It was the first of seven British atomic tests in Australia in 1956 and 1957, which were followed by over 600 so called ‘minor tests’ with highly toxic substances such as plutonium and beryllium until 1963.
The Maralinga tests were indeed not the first the British Government conducted on Australian territory. Three atomic devices were detonated in the Montebello archipelago off the coast of Western Australia further two in Emu, about 400 km north of Maralinga. Yet, it was the term Maralinga, an Aboriginal word for thunder, the tests have been associated with and which gave this dark part of Australian history its iconic name.
Atomic testing in Australia resulted in the forced removal of its original inhabitants, the Anangu / Pitjantjatjarra, from their traditional lands, the desecration and destruction of country and the exposure of its desert people, military and civil personnel to radiation while causing radioactive fall-out across the Australian continent.
Black Mist Burnt Country is a national touring exhibition project, which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the British atomic test series at Maralinga. It revisits the events and its location through the artworks by Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary artists across the mediums of painting, print-making, sculpture, installation, photography and new media.
The works in the exhibition collectively span a period of seven decades, from the first atomic test in Hiroshima and the post-WW II era, through the times of anti-nuclear protest in the 1980s to the present day. The exhibition is planned to commence in September 2016 and tour nationally to public galleries and museums across five states in 2017 and 2018.
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We are very happy to announce that our Online Shop has been quietly launched yesterday. Apart from the Exhibition Catalogue you can find a range of interesting books, audio books, and posters on the topic of the Maralinga nuclear tests and atomic weapons in general.
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Negotiations are underway in New York at the United Nations to produce a treaty banning nuclear weapons. This is a historic moment. Disarmament experts and campaigners are confident that the legal loophole will be closed and nuclear weapons outlawed, which will provide an important legal framework and instigate nuclear disarmament in the future.
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A 40-page educational resource is now available for download from the resource section on website. The brochure was developed by Dr Jo Clyne at the History Teachers Association of Victoria, and has been tailored for secondary school students and adapted to the curricula in VIC, NSW and QLD.
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Since the launch of its tour in Sydney in September last year Black Mist Burnt Country has attracted – and continues to receive – some terrific media attention. National media including ABC News24, Radio National, NITV, The Conversation, as well as the arts media have covered exhibition.
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