RIVER SOUL: Local artist Jade Millard with some of her ‘realistic’ works which appear in the ‘Voice of the River’ exhibition at the MiM Gallery. Jade also has some of her abstract art on display in Gallery F in her coinciding ‘My Darling River’ exhibition.

By JOHN DOOLEY

THE simultaneous launch of two exhibitions featuring a powerful collection of works by local and national artists depicting the plight of our river system will take place at the Museum of Innocence (MiM) and Gallery F tomorrow at 3pm.

Arts Mildura says the exhibitions are part of their response to the crisis in our river system, and is an activation exploring the social, environmental and psychological connections to the Murray-Darling Rivers.

Newly appointed general manager of Arts Mildura, Gareth Hart, said the exhibitions are part of a number of innovative events coming through the gallery this year.

“I’m super excited about including our next exhibition, ‘Voice of the River’, which is being staged in the MiM gallery and it’s the first time Arts Mildura has put a call out to the national and local arts community to contribute work to a major group show, which is themed around the crisis that we are experiencing in the Darling River at the moment,” he said.

“It’s proving to be a rewarding experience, and we’ve had a lot of representation from a number of artists around Australia, including people who have exhibited overseas and have international profiles, as well as some really significant local artists and visiting artists who have just come through and been touched by the area.”

Gareth said that coinciding the ‘Voice of the River’ and ‘My Darling River’ exhibitions was “perfectly timed.”

“The events with the river and the fish deaths are something that is at the heart of the community. You can’t pick up the paper without reading about it from a political or environmental or a community perspective,” he said.

“These exhibitions are really a chance to have a creative expression around this crisis, which in some sense is really only gathering traction now, but it has been going on for a long time.” 

Local artist Jade Millard will have a range of abstract works on display in Gallery F for her ‘My Darling River’ exhibition, and she also has a collection of her realistic paintings hanging in the MiM gallery for the ‘Voice of the River’ exhibition.

Jade’s body of work is described as capturing both emotion and beauty, which has been created intuitively with colour and love to highlight the Darling River, its people and ecosystem, for healing and hope.

“My abstract paintings are a reflection of my emotions and feelings and I enjoy producing these works more these days than my original realistic paintings,” she said. “Some of the large pieces have been produced outside on a big roll of canvas, which I attach to the trunk of a tree and use it like an ease, and I usually work with some music in the background or just listen to the natural sound of the bush.

“The emotion that you feel when you are outside with nature is very inspiring, and I enjoy working in that environment.”

Another of Jade’s abstract works is called the Milky Way, and is a colourful depiction of the cluster of millions of stars which can been seen when you are in the bush beside the river away from city lights. 

“I had an image in my head similar to what you see when you’re camping by the river and you can see the Milky Way, and so I translated that onto a piece of timber, which I have covered with a resin finish,” she said.

One of Jade’s realistic paintings on display with her other works in the ‘Voice of the River’, features the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers.

“It’s titled Murray Darling Junction, and shows the meeting of the two rivers. I went up in a plane and took some photos of the area and painted the picture from one of those,” she said.

In 2006 Jade entered the artwork in the NSW Country Energy Art Prize, which offered a $35,000 first prize. 

She was among 35 finalists chosen from more than 400 entries – submitted by artists living in rural areas across the State.