Striking Solferino gold.
By EMMA CORNFORD
IN THE darkness of the Grafton Regional Gallery collection room sit 37 photographs of Clarence Valley Aboriginals, taken by John William Lindt around 1873.
They were gifted to the Gallery by Sam and Janet Cullen last year after the family took an impromptu decision to purchase them by telephone bid at a London auction.
That donation recently became the catalyst for another last-minute purchase of Lindt photographs, this time by the Friends of the Grafton Regional Gallery.
"When the Cullens returned to Grafton (in April) they brought along a Bonhams and Goodman art catalogue.
''It showed three Lindt images and they brought it to our attention that there were seven more pictures on the market ... and how they would com- plement the others," said Friends vice-president, Pam Fysh.
But the pictures, of the old Solferino gold mining settlement west of Baryulgil, had been passed in at auctions in London and Sydney and looked set to be sent back to their German vendor.
"We raced around to get sponsorship to buy them, but we couldn't get enough to cover the full cost," she said.
As the possibility of the pictures leaving the country became more real, the Friends had to act quickly to secure the photos.
Mrs Fysh and Friends president Peter McKenna called a meeting to convince members it would be in the Gallery's best interests to spend $10,000 earmarked for the JADA award on the Lindt photographs.
"One or two weren't very happy about JADA money going to this but ... in the end we decided we would take on the project, and with the money for JADA, we wrote a cheque."
The problem now, Mrs Fysh said, was replenishing the JADA bank account.
As a way of recouping the funds, the Friends are offering Clarence Valley business houses and individuals the opportunity to 'sponsor' the Lindt photographs.
Some have already taken up the offer, jumping at the chance to have their name associated with such a significant part of Clarence Valley history. But the Friends are still searching for more.
"Any people in the community or business houses interested in sponsoring one ? we'd welcome them with open arms," Ms Fysh said.
Sam Cullen also encouraged the community to sponsor a picture.
"People should get behind this new collection because it's part of the Clarence and it's terribly important," he said.
"The Gallery will have something really, really important and worthwhile if it continues like this."