Art comment on mining

HOW SHALL WE LOOK: Penny Dunstan with one of her works on exhibition at Gallery 139.
HOW SHALL WE LOOK: Penny Dunstan with one of her works on exhibition at Gallery 139.

ARTIST Penny Dunstan has explored the impact of mining on the land through art.

Her work questions the very notion of “rehabilitation” of land post-mining. 

Dunstan has three works in a new group show, Beneath, currently on exhibition at Gallery 139.

“What is this new thing called rehabilitated land?” is the question, her work explores.

“There is 23,000 hectares of it, so far,” Dunstan said.

“It all comes from my walking through rehabilitated land.” 

In one of the works, How Shall We Look, Dunstan uses the pages of a mine closure report as her canvas. The report becomes part of the work as she applies chalk, charcoal, graphite and ink.  

“It’s the rehabilitation section,” she said. “I’ve printed it out and I’ve drawn over the top what the micro and the macro look like when you are walking over that land.”

The work shows the layers of “human intervention” on the land.

“The trucks that move backwards and forwards …  it comes out as brush work, the words in the document, the bits I obscure, put in or take away,” she said. 

This work relates to Rix’s Creek, near Singleton. The 22 pages of the report become individual components of the work that piece together into one larger piece. 

“Mines are construed to be a 20 year land use, and then everything is supposed to go back to normal,” she said. “But there is no way back … because everything has been so reconstructed. 

“In the mine report they list all the things that should be there, that were there in the past, but when you walk through the land it’s all different.” 

A second work, titled Void, plays with Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 painting Black Square. The work is made from coal sourced from Mount Arthur mixed with a medium. 

The third work Continuity explores the impact of mining on aquifers. 

Also exhibiting in Beneath are: Toni Amidy, Nina Battley, Nathan Keogh, Mandy Robinson, James Murphy, and Ainslie Ivin-Smith. 

The exhibition runs until October 8 at Gallery 139, 139 Beaumont Street, Hamilton.