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A Portrait of Landscape and Time in Hill End

Tue January 8 - Sun February 24

A Portrait of Landscape and Time in Hill End: Myth-making, Heroes and Villains is an exhibition of paintings and research, with an accompanying book by Central West Artist Rebecca Wilson. The exhibition runs from 8 Jan to 24 February at Grenfell Gallery.

Rebecca will be giving a talk at the official opening Wednesday 6 February at 2pm

The works unearth lesser known stories of the remote and iconic town of Hill End. They disrupt common narratives of the region, questioning who the real heroes and villains are in recorded history and how we create myths and icons.

“The line that divides good and evil cuts through the heart of every man,” is a quote from Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn which introduces the viewer to the artist’s narrative works. These span from early white settlement to present day, avoiding a normal sequence of time, allowing events from 200 years ago to co-exist with events from the 21st century, highlighting the constant presence of ghosts from the past in contemporary Hill End.

The artist’s paintings and research introduce Bathurst War hero and Wiradyuri leader, Windradyne and the shameful declaration of Martial Law in 1824. The events around this time are a significant, but often ignored, part of Australia’s history. It was a devastating attempt at genocide against Aboriginal people.

There are further tales of murder and racism in the gold rush era featuring Sammy Poo, also known as Cranky Sam, Australia’s only Chinese bushranger, who eventually hanged at Bathurst in 1865.  The journey through time acknowledges artists who have visited or lived in the region from the 1940’s and 1960’s, including such lesser known figures as Jean Bellette, who remains the only woman to have won the Sulman Prize more than once. Wilson makes reference to the imagery of Brett Whiteley, Michael Johnson and other artists. She also raises questions about the apparent lack of consequences for Donald Friend’s paedophilia, his activities in Hill End and beyond and why special allowances have been made for unacceptable, criminal behaviour from specific male artists.

Kerry Negara, maker of the documentary “A Loving Friend”, a work that is now on curriculum lists in main universities across Australia, Indonesia and in New York.  She writes of Wilson’s work; “I am simultaneously fascinated and upset by the extraordinary amount of misinformation and myth making that our societies operate on. Rebecca’s offering here (A Portrait of Landscape and Time in Hill End) is a perceptive collection of the highest order. 

PODCAST FOR THIS EXHIBITION: Interview with Kerry Negara.

Wilson has created images based on photographs of nooses and gravestones that were installed in Hill End after it was gazetted as an historic site in 1967. Public protests were aimed at National Parks & Wildlife Service, whose staff recall (in a NPWS report, circa 2001) having their tyres slashed whenever they came to town. No locals would talk to them, such was the resistance to the government intervention. By the 1980’s many residents had lost family properties as the government resumed houses and land from Tambaroora to Hill End. The protesters referred to NPWS as totalitarians who ignored their rights.

Intertwined with her investigation of stories across time, is Wilson’s own personal experience of living in the remote country town of Hill End, marrying a fifth generation local of Wiradyuri heritage and facing her own mortality during a recent life threatening illness. The book holds an enchanting letter of memories recollected for this project by Fred Thompson, the 90 year old uncle of the artist’s husband, who summarized his poetic childhood in the small town of Hill End with beauty and delight.

Simultaneously these paintings investigate how we remember events, create myths and icons and perceive our heroes and villains through Hill End’s history, while also commenting on the broader concepts of the human condition, truth and lies in our society.

Website: https://rebeccawilsonart.com/

Gallery Hours: Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm; Saturday 10am – 3pm; Sunday 10am – 2pm

Image: Luncheon at Split Rock, c2018.


Tue January 8
Sun February 24
Event Category:


Grenfell Art Gallery
(02) 6343 2059


Local Government Area
Visual arts


Grenfell Art Gallery
88 Main Street
Grenfell, NSW 2810 Australia
+ Google Map
(02) 6343 2059

The What’s On calendar covers arts events happening across the NSW Central West. These events are sourced or supplied from local venues and arts organisations. Whilst all care is taken and accuracy is our priority we can take no responsibility for date changes or the content of contributed information. To contribute an event email us at artsoutwest@csu.edu.au