The Broken Hill Art Exchange, located at 313 Argent Street, is set to host an exhibition titled A Tale of Two Rivers on May 26 and 27. This timely showcase, organised by a team of academics from the Water Justice Hub, highlights the crucial conversation surrounding water preservation and justice. The exhibition will focus specifically on the Darling-Baaka, and the Martuwarra Fitzroy in Western Australia.
A Tale of Two Rivers boasts a rich array of media including artworks, graphic visualisations, poetry, screen-printed works, and film screenings. Notably, it will feature paintings and drawings from Barkindji artists depicting the Darling-Baaka River, alongside graphic visualisations of testimonials from Menindee and Wilcannia residents, collected over recent years.
Dan Schulz, a member of the Water Justice Hub and a PhD student at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, discussed the group’s plans to conduct workshops in Broken Hill, aiming to determine “the kind of research that needs to be done and our strategy over the next few years.”
Schulz explained, “Everybody has a different take on what justice means around water or environments. For the Water Justice Hub, it’s about equality – ensuring everyone has access to water for drinking, washing, and also that the environment has enough water to sustain ecosystems.”
He elaborated on the group’s focus on Indigenous water justice, noting, “Globally, Indigenous people own and manage very little of those resources but have the right to input how water is used, how much, and have cultural rights to rivers to practice their culture. That type of justice isn’t happening in Australia, and it’s certainly not happening on the Darling-Baaka River.”
Within the Water Justice Hub, perspectives on justice vary, yet there is common agreement that our rivers face significant threats due to climate change and over-extraction. This issue calls for immediate, substantial decisions to prevent potential ecosystem collapse.
The exhibition aims to inspire involvement, foster dialogue between communities and decision-makers, and promote collaboration. Schulz emphasized the importance of community voice in their work, stating, “The people who know most about what’s happened to the river are usually the ones living on them. Their knowledge is an important part of managing rivers.”
The Water Justice Hub intends to present some of their work to the community, facilitating a dialogue about river management. Schulz added, “We can have a bit of a social event around art and film so that they can learn about the community here and the community can see what activities they’re up to.”
Nadina Benvenisti, a member of the Broken Hill Art Exchange committee, welcomed this opportunity for collaboration. “Art is used to communicate science and to get people to create dialogues,” she stated. “The goal is to get individuals, like you and I, and the community members, to get involved and to have a voice and to speak to policymakers. People’s voices drive change, and this is another way to stimulate those conversations.”
The A Tale of Two Rivers exhibition will be inaugurated on Friday, May 26, from 6pm, with a screening of ‘The Serpent’s Tale’ at 7pm. Complimentary nibbles and drinks will be provided. The exhibition will continue on Saturday, May 27, from 10am to 4pm. For more information on the Water Justice Hub, visit their website at https://www.waterjusticehub.org.