White Bluff deserves the spotlight in new exhibition

3 years ago | by

Opening date now to be rescheduled due to urgent gallery maintenance.
Please check back for confirmed exhibition dates.

Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery will host The White Bluff Project, an exhibition of work resulting from a three-year local art, science and community collaboration centred around the rocky headland of White Bluff, just north of Coffs Harbour.

The little-known but significant site of White Bluff is bordered by suburban development, yet its stunning coastline is protected by the Solitary Islands Marine Reserve and its bushland cared for by Sapphire Reserve Landcare with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

White Bluff is now receiving the attention it deserves thanks to the work of The White Bluff Project team, in partnership with Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery.

Painter Ray Rixon has taken inspiration from White Bluff for over 40 years and has led the project alongside fellow artist Sarah Mufford, to creatively respond to the unique site.

The White Bluff Project has brought together local visual artists, filmmakers, an historian, a poet, a musician, ecologists, a marine scientist, traditional knowledge holders and community stakeholders.

Over the past three years the group has collaborated on research, field trips and workshops, to weave their varied disciplines and experiences into final artworks. In the same way that White Bluff is a weaving of varied ecosystems and histories.

Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung artist Tori Donnelly recalls a boat trip early in the project to Split Solitary Island and the waters off White Bluff.

“You’d have one person sharing the geological history of White bluff and another person jumping in with information about why there is such an abundance of marine life where the two oceans meet,” explains Ms Donnelly.

“Incredibly so much of the science resonated with Gumbaynggirr stories I’ve been told,” says Ms Donnelly who hopes people seeing the exhibition will be inspired to find their own ways to connect meaningfully to country. “It would be great if they take in the process of what we’ve tried to interpret and turn into art, and go out there to connect to country themselves.”

“You don’t have to be an artist or a scientist to go out and look at rock closely, touch a banksia tree or observe what’s in a rock pool, but if you do want to get creative let yourself be inspired.”

Some surprising discoveries from the project were woven into the creative works including the diverse marine life found in White Bluff’s surrounding waters and rockpools. One highlight for marine scientist Dr Karina Hall was a rare microscopic phytoplankton discovery found while working with artists Joanne Elliot and Julie Nash.

Tori Donnelly and Chris Armstrong at a Mapping the Air workshop


The public can join in on events during the exhibition at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, including a Curator, Artist and Scientist Talk on April 10 and a Creative Workshop on site at White Bluff on April 24. For event details visit https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/gallery

For more insights into The White Bluff Project visit https://www.thewhitebluffproject.co/

Participants in The White Bluff Project include:

Ray Rixon / Sarah Mufford / Mark George / Megan George / Terri Butterworth / Tori Donnelly / Joanne Elliott / John Van Der Kolk / Martin Van Veluwen / Jeremy Sheehan / Julie Nash / Ashleigh Frost / Chris Armstrong / Phil Greed / J P Willis / Greg Elks (Plant Ecologist) / Mark Graham (Ecologist) / Dr Karina Hall (Marine Scientist) / Dr Lisa Milner (Historian)

Credits: Tori Donnelly interview courtesy of Harbour Magazine.
White Bluff photo by Martin Van Veluwen

 Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery is a cultural facility of Coffs Harbour City Council


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