Last
Friday night (April Fool’s Day) at Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery in
Gymea, local MHR Danna Vale did not know how to look at Christopher
Lawrie’s work “Salt of the Earth”. She was bemused, entranced, shocked.
She wept at the emotion of it, was not sure if it was a spoof or a
tribute. She could not stay away, and spent much of the evening
hovering over the piece in puzzlement. Danna Vale is easily puzzled.

The
exhibition “God’s Own Country” is one of a series of works where
invited local artists contribute work on a particular theme. As The
Shire (which is included in Vale’s electorate of Hughes) is the
heartland of Baptist fundamentalism, there is a certain smugness in the
air. The artist of this “tribute” has made many pieces on the theme of
salt, so it could be argued that preserving her in this manner is
simply a part of his usual practice. He uncovered Vale’s rant by a
simple Google search for the phrase “God’s Own Country” and Sutherland.
His work is a simple paste up of her declaration, some postcard size
prints of “You are the salt of the earth” and a salt encrusted
photograph of its author. The total effect is quite impressive. Maybe
he should try to repeat it (suitably enlarged) for the Archibald. Her
words certainly deserve wider exposure.

Peter Fray

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