First of all, I wish to say a big thank you to the community of Kalgoorlie-Boulder for hosting and generously supporting me as an artist-in-residence.
The works you encounter in this exhibition have been created over two years of research and two artist residencies I undertook here at the Goldfields Art Centre in 2021 and 2022.
I was initially brought to Kalgoorlie-Boulder through a residency program facilitated by SPACED. I had never been to Kalgoorlie-Boulder before my first residency here. In fact, I knew very little about the region. In this foreign new place, with no friends (yet) and no creative plan, my brief was to engage with the community and create artworks that respond to the theme ‘rural utopias’.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder immediately struck me as an eccentric and charismatic city. It’s full of culture, employment opportunity, wealth, family values, a rowdy nightlife and, of course, gold. It felt natural to view Kalgoorlie-Boulder through a utopian lens.
The Boulder Town Hall, with lavish pastel-coloured architecture and the iconic Goatcher Curtain, is where I first found utopia. The Goatcher Curtain is a rare and world-class artefact, the epitome of ‘high art’ in its classical form that was made possible through a booming industry: the Gold Rush.
I can also see utopia in the Super Pit Mine. It feels scary to peer into a human-made hole so enormous. However, the locals here have taught me to see the dramatic beauty in this epic landscape, particularly at sunset, when the pinks and purples set in. Reflecting off the sky, glowing colours are splashed across the mine.
The Super Pit Curtain was born from combining these utopias. One is a space for work, the other a space for leisure. One is a space of grit, the other a space of glamour. However, they are more connected than they are separate.
It is worth noting that the Goatcher Curtain would not exist without the Super Pit. Threaded throughout the works is this idea of unifying the different spaces and different people in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The Super Pit Curtain travelled across the city, from Hammond Park to Boulder Camp. From Diggers and Dealers to the Main Reef Tavern and the Quarry in Brown Hill. The locals, workers and visitors at each location were invited to pose for their portrait with the curtain. We see workers, young families, skimpies and Aboriginal communities posing for portraits. All from a different walk of life, all with equally interesting stories of their lives in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
What do you see:
If we ceased to see each social group as separate?
If we viewed them all as equal?
If we ceased to see alternative value systems as a threat to another?
If we, for a moment, viewed all aspects of daily life in Kalgoorlie-Boulder through rose-tinted glasses?
I see a Golden Utopia.
Thank you again for having me Kalgoorlie-Boulder. I hope that my observations may provide a fresh perspective on some of the dynamic social and cultural structures of the city. I hope I have created a picture of Kalgoorlie-Boulder as the utopia it is. A utopia that is built by economy, labour and social class.
I have so much respect and appreciation.
Georgie Mattingley, your visiting artist.