Polishing Rusty Gems
9 – 13 August 2023
The exhibition triumphed! The Gemfields Festival saw a bustling crowd. A true highlight for me were the locals, who warmly embraced the photos, seeing their everyday landscapes transformed into artworks. Meeting new talented local artists also gave me a fresh perspective on the area's creative scene.
And we even caught the attention of the local newspaper, Capricorn Enterprise. I'm grateful to Alyssah for her kind words in the article 'Gemfields Festival underway this week!'.
Rubyvale Town Hall
The Gemfields, 4702
RUSTY GEMS: A Photo Collection of “Up & Over” Mobile Wash Plants
Known colloquially as “up & over trucks,” “mobile wash plants,” or “mobile mining rigs,” these unofficial marvels emerged during the 1970s sapphire boom. Innovations that shifted processing equipment across claim sites, they became the tools of solitary miners.
For me, these timeworn artifacts, forged by enterprising resourcefulness, epitomise The Gemfields' essence.Despite their pivotal role in Australia's fossicking narrative, their historical significance remains unrecorded. Drawn to their visually authentic presence, my lens makes them protagonists.
In the spring of 2021, the evening skies roared with electric storms, taunting promises of rain, yet gifting me spectacular backdrops for my outback theatre. On an electric bike I traversed remote claims, sharing tales over sundowners with fossickers. Twilight unfolded, and with it, we painted scenes with light—LEDs, head torches, car beams, halogen work lights, phone flashes, fluoros, and security lamps—all captured in a 30-second exposure.
Rusty Gems is my homage to a unique perspective on sapphire mining, where painted light unravels tales of resourcefulness and history.
Gemfields Festival, 2023
Michelle McFarlane, a Melbourne-based professional photographer, is known for her work primarily within universities, hospitals, and laboratories, where she captures cutting-edge research, medical breakthroughs, and unfolding events. Amidst the pandemic's upheaval, Michelle found solace in the Gemfields, where she joined her father—a publican at the New Royal in Rubyvale—to embrace a new photographic journey.