In a profound tribute to his love of regional Australia, Dr James Farley has encapsulated the post-industrial conditional of one of Australia’s most remote cities, Broken Hill, in his photographic series, Silver City 2015-2018.
Broken Hill is recognised for its continuous one hundred thirty-five year history of mining operations, along with its struggle with trade unions, and the pioneering environmental groundwork by passionate community groups. Once one of the biggest mining areas in Australia, Broken Hill is now faced with a declining population and economic uncertainty.
In the Silver City 2015-2018 series, James uses photography to grapple with the complexities of place, observing how overlapping histories are woven into the surfaces and environments of Broken Hill. Silver City 2015-2018 was shown as a major solo exhibition during the 2021 Regions Rising Summit at the Regional Australia Institute in March.
It was through the utilisation of a Quick Response Grants provided by Regional Arts NSW that James was able to make the journey from his home on Wiradjuri Country in Wagga Wagga, NSW to Canberra for the Summit and to present his exhibition.
“The Quick Response Grant allowed me to travel to install/de-install my exhibition at RAI headquarters, and to stay in Canberra to attend the conference over a three-day period. As the invitation to be artist-in-residence at the RAI didn’t include financial support, it would have been a significant burden to accept this opportunity without the support of a Quick Response Grant,” James reflects.
“I am thankful to Regional Arts NSW for their support towards this project and feel that my participation in the Regions Rising summit has led to significant new directions in my career.”
When asked what he enjoyed most about presenting his exhibition at the Regional Australia Institute and attending the summit, James commented “The most exciting part of sharing this work at the Regional Australia Institute was to be a regional artist, sharing work made in, about and for regional Australia.
“The work to me speaks towards the resilience and progressive capacity of regional communities. It is part of my broader interest in regional economies transitioning away from extractive and ecologically damaging industry and towards sustainable and renewable economic activity, especially creative and cultural economies.”
By being able to attend the Regions Rising Summit and present his exhibition, James has also discovered a newfound inspiration to refocus his efforts on supporting the growth and wellbeing of his arts ecology.
“The conference made me realise that my greatest capacity to contribute to positive change was to lead at local level and to use the privileges that have been mine to create and hold space for others in my community,” James said.
James is currently working towards further collaboration with fellow like-minded regional artists via a range of independent art spaces, creative businesses, and community networks. In May 2021, fellow artists Patrick Ronald joined James in co-founding the F.Stop Workshop, a new photographic studio and art space committed to supporting our creativity, education, and community.