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Published October 13th 2013
Experience the magic of the Living Desert - Broken Hill
Reportedly the most photographed sculpture in outback north-west NSW is Antonio Nava Tirado's sculpture titled 'Bajo El Sol Jaguar' which translates to 'Under the Jaguar Sun'. Antonio is an Aztec Indian from Mexico City, Mexico. In his artist statement. Antonio explains 'use of the sun and the moon depicts the duality and Night is represented by the star of Venus. The mouth of the Jaguar takes the sun at night to protect it. Day is represented by the circle created by the sun'. Image copyright: Jenny Pickett.
2013 marks the 20th anniversary for one of Broken Hill's major tourist attractions, the Broken Hill Sculpture Symposium - a collection of twelve sandstone sculptures located at the peak of Sundown Hill, within Broken Hill's Living Desert reserve.
The Living Desert reserve is a short 15 minute drive north-west of the main township of Broken Hill. All roads are sealed and payment on entry into the Living Desert reserve is required to assist in the upkeep of this significant site. Upon entry, visitors can either park and reach the sculpture site by walking 1km along through the flora and fauna sanctuary trail or continue to drive (10km/h zone applies as the road is narrow and winding) up to the sculpture site.
Local indigenous artist, Badger Bates sculpture is titled 'Nhatji / Rainbow Serpent'.
Symposium director and Gosford-based sculptor, Lawrence Beck, initiated the creation of these mesmerising pieces of art but only after seeking spiritual guidance from an eagle. The element of spirituality is instantly evident even before arriving at the site - the sculptures further enhance and confirm it.
Eduardo Nasta Luna of Mexico's sculpture is titled 'Facing the Day and Night'.
The biggest obstacle to overcome was transporting 53 tonnes of free-floating sandstone boulders sourced from the Macculloch Ranges east of Wilcannia. The Sculpture Symposium's Technical Director, Mark Butcher, secured the services of local contractors, Gary Radford and Kevin Gobell, who completed this mammoth task free of charge - safely transferring the giant sandstone boulders to the peak of what is locally known as Sundown Hill (within Living Desert reserve).
Jumber Jikiya's sculpture is titled 'Horse'. In his artist statement, Jumber explains his 'work is a tribute to horses. People must be aware of the nobility of the horse. At Stalin's request, all the Georgian horses (a special European breed) were slaughtered'. Image copyright of Jenny Pickett.
Sculpture Symposium Director, Lawrence Beck, was successful in attracting 12 international sculptors, including local indigenous artist, Badger Bates to the site. The project commenced on 2 April 1993 and was completed on 23 May 1993 - but only after overcoming what could have been a major setback if it weren't for the generosity and community spirit of the people of Broken Hill, who quickly raised $7,000 to enable timely completion of the Sculpture Symposium after it exhausted funds provided by major sponsor, Broken Hill City Council, and Australia Council for the Arts grants.
Upon visiting the site, it's easy to see what a challenging project this would have been. Locals ensured the artists were adequately fed, sheltered and provided with other necessities such as potable water, showers and toilets, and donated the all important tools, scaffolds and associated services. Local blacksmith Alan Carr ensured the sculptors' tools were kept well-honed.
Valerian Jikiya of Rustiva, Georgia's sculpture is titled 'Angles of the Sun and the Moon' (foreground). In the background is Antonio Nava Tirado of Mexico City, Mexico's 'Bajo el sol Jaguar / Under the Jaguar Sun'. ''
The twelve artists and their works (in no particular order) are: Jumber Jikiya of Rustiva, Georgia ('Horse'); Gordon Pupangamirri, Tiwi of Bathurst Island ('Tiwi Totems'); Thomas Munkanome, Tiwi of Bathurst Island ('Thomasina - Jillarruwi/The Ibis'); Lawrence Beck of Koolewong, NSW ('A present for Fred Hollows in the Afterlife'); Badger Bates of Broken Hill NSW ('Nhatji / Rainbow Serpent'); Valerian Jikiya of Rustiva, Georgia ('Angles of the Sun and the Moon'); Dr Ahmad Al Ahmad of Damascus, Syria ('Habitat'); Antonio Nava Tirado of Mexico City, Mexico ('Bajo el sol Jaguar / Under the Jaguar Sun'); Conrad Clark of UK/Katoomba NSW ('Moon Goddess'); Dr Mahomad Mira of Damascus, Syria ('The Bride'); Badri Salushia of Tbilisi, Georgia ('Motherhood') and Eduado Nasta Luna of Mexico City, Mexico ('Facing the Day and the Night').
To gain full benefit from this spectacular tourist attraction, it is recommended that visitors witness its changing colours at sunrise and/or sunset. We visited in the early afternoon to view this breathtaking art and it didn't disappoint.