ON THE RISE: Construction of the new Grafton bridge.
ON THE RISE: Construction of the new Grafton bridge. Pam Fysh

ARTEFACTS: Talking about bridges at regional gallery

THE changing landscapes in the Clarence Valley where four new bridges are being built continue to attract a lot of attention from residents and visitors to the region.

In Grafton cranes rise above the existing Grafton bridge in a variety of colours. At Harwood the cranes are matched by the tall pylons of the new bridge. At Lawrence the new bridge is near complete while works are underway at Tabulam.

Eight artists have presented new work in response to these constructions up until the end of last year in The Bridges: The Second Year at the Grafton Regional Gallery. They are part of The Bridges, an ongoing project of the gallery, supported by Roads and Maritime Services.

ARTIST'S VIEW: Harwood bridge.
ARTIST'S VIEW: Harwood bridge. Georgie Lucock

A selection from this exhibition will be moving to the Grafton Library in early February.

In tandem with this new work the gallery has presented a small exhibition on the history of the existing Grafton bridge using information from the Clarence Valley Council and Clarence River Historical Society archives. The exhibition presents images of the train ferries used before the road and rail bridge was built, engineering drawings and the construction and opening of the bridge with substantial supporting information.

Bridges by the locals

THERE is a new exhibition, Bridges of the Clarence, in our community gallery space.

Several artists from Grafton Art Club have presented artworks about some of the bridges in the Clarence Valley. Anne Carter, Daphne Maugham, Averill Wiblen, Wayne Gadke, Lola McPhee, Robyn Jackson, Ray O'Shea, Rhondella Hyde, Pam Fysh, Amanda Wynne, Linne Pattenden and Pauline Cole have painted, drawn or printed their responses to the existing Grafton bridge, Coldstream Bridge at Tyndale, Sportsman Creek Bridge at Lawrence and the McFarlane Bridge at Maclean.

Most of the artworks in The Bridges: The Second Year are for sale and are proving popular and the new works in Bridges of the Clarence offer an extra suite to select from. All the artists are from the Clarence Valley or nearby regions.

The best way to support an artist is to buy their artwork. This always has many positive outcomes for the development of the arts in our region.

Without consent

THE Grafton Regional Gallery's major exhibition currently on display, Without Consent: Australia's Past Adoption Practices, reveals a previously hidden aspect of Australia's past. The development of the exhibition and its accompanying website offered those affected by forced adoptions the opportunity to share their experiences.

It is estimated that at least 150,000 adoptions took place from the 1950s to the 1970s; a significant number of them were forced adoptions. Many of the women who had their babies taken were unmarried and, because of the stigma attached to unmarried mothers at the time, were often forced to live a lie for decades. For some, it was a secret they took to their graves.

The National Archives curated the exhibition and developed a website, following former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's national apology to those affected by forced adoptions. The exhibition aims to show the truth - that the babies taken for adoption were dearly loved and wanted by their parents.

One letter in the exhibition, from a mother to her son, read 'I loved you so much it hurt, and I loved you much more than I loved myself; that was why I was prepared to sacrifice my happiness for yours'.

The exhibition is a tribute to the courage and generosity of those who volunteered to share their experiences and, in doing so, exposed this aspect of Australia's history. The companion website can be viewed at http://forced -adoptions.naa.gov.au/

Without Consent: Australia's Past Adoption Practice, toured by the National Archives, Canberra, is on display at the Grafton Regional Gallery until January 27, 2018.

Digital news

THE gallery has a great year ahead starting with our new café Entrees and upcoming Archibald Prize 2017 Touring Exhibition that officially opens on Friday, February 2.

This year our invitations to our exhibitions and events and our news and information are sent out via email, Facebook and Instagram. To keep in touch with us join our email newsletters and invitations by subscribing through our website www.graftongallery. nsw.gov.au or by phoning the gallery or calling in with your contact details.

Gallery opening hours

THE gallery and our new café Entrees are open 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday. Entrees is also open for dinner 6pm to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Entrees has live music every Friday evening.

Our big news is that from Sunday, February 4 the gallery and the café will be open every Sunday 10am to 2pm. We are calling for volunteers to help us out on Sundays. Contact the gallery if you are interested in being one of our gallery volunteers.

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