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Published October 11th 2016
The largest artwork in South Australia
Sheltered in the small country town of Hawker is a South Australian icon that many people, myself included, drive past on their way to the Flinders Ranges National Park. But recently I took time out to explore, and was truly taken aback by the beauty and majesty of the Jeff Morgan Gallery.
On the corner of Cradock Road and Flinders Ranges Way, the small shopfront with the red bricked cylindrical looking building to the rear had always piqued the interest, but the addition of a monstrous green shed to the side meant it became compulsory to have a look.
Inside the shopfront are rows of prints and paintings from renowned and internationally acclaimed artist Jeff Morgan. From postcard size to 36 inch specials, there are numerous paintings and photos of the Flinders Ranges and surrounds, many in decorative and distinctive frames, and all available for purchase at reasonable prices.
Jeff Morgan, the artist, was born in the Southern Flinders Ranges, and spent the first half of his life working in the Wirrabara Forest and at his orchard. In 1990, a change of direction saw Jeff pick up a paintbrush, spend some time at Rawnsley Park as the artist-in-residence before embarking on a major project that was to consume some 4,000 hours of his life during 2002.
That project was the Wilpena Panorama, a 3.5m high by 33m wide panorama of the Flinders Ranges, as viewed from St Mary's Peak at the top of Wilpena Pound. The Wilpena Panorama is housed in the red brick circular building and may be viewed from ground level or from the raised platform in the centre of the round room, and consumes the majority of this building.
Following completion of this unique painting in 2003, Jeff was invited to speak around the world at various panorama conferences where his talents and painting were recognised as unique in the world with the ability to incorporate so many local landmarks such as Wilpena Pound, the Bunkers, Elder Range, and the ABC and Heysen Ranges.
Today the Jeff Morgan Gallery consists of five and a half stunning panoramas and murals, all available for viewing for a small entrance fee of $8. A short walk to the back of the facility, and the "half" is explained - an enormous panorama some 6m high and 60m in circumference is in the process of being painted by Jeff, and is on track to becoming yet another internationally acclaimed panoramic painting in Hawker when completed in 2017.
The Jeff Morgan Gallery is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and from 9am to noon on Saturday, and there is a good chance that you'll catch Jeff in action in the big green shed as he completes the latest panorama. Alternatively, a chat in the shop to Miriam, his wife, is bound to provide some insights into their lives and their journey so far. Further details on the Gallery are available on the Jeff Morgan Gallery website or the Wilpena Panorama website.