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.
Black Mist Burnt Country was officially launched on Tuesday night in the presence of 250 visitors at SH Ervin Gallery on Observatory Hill at Sydney’s The Rocks. Artist Ben Quilty said Australia’s decision to allow the British testing on traditional Indigenous lands was one of the darkest part of Australia history that Australians still have to […]
Black Mist Burnt Country opened to the public yesterday and had already a stream of visitors. It is receiving already good feedback with visitors commenting that the exhibition is “powerful” and “impressive”. Over 50 works across the mediums of painting, screen printing, photography, sculpture, new media and music give insights in the story of the […]
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Install has commenced at National Trust SH Ervin Gallery in Sydney for the first installment of the tour. Visit our Facebook page to see some images and for updates. The official opening, less than a week away now, will mark the 60th anniversary of the first atomic test at Maralinga on 27 September 1956.
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Another milestone achieved: the proofs for the 96 page exhibition catalogue have been checked at the printer’s in Melbourne. The book is in print and should be ready in a week. Very exciting. Thanks to all contributors, authors and Anna Wolf for the design.
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