Founded in 2001, the Broken Hill Art Exchange is a non-profit association
operated by volunteers. Its aim is to promote and support the progress of art and
artists. BHAE provides a trans-disciplinary international artist residency along
with workshops, exhibitions, consultancy and project management.
The Desert Equinox Solar Art Prize was initiated by BHAE with major sponsorship
from AGL Energy. Held from 18-27 March 2016, this event is a Prelude to the
future Broken Hill Biennial of Art. As the first event, Solar leads into other
preludes later in 2016, focused on the ancient elements of Earth, Water and Air.
See more at http://bhaeinc.wix.com/desertequinox
Graeme Gibson and Meg Bishop have been partners in the personal and
professional realm for more than 20 years.
In recent years Meg has focused on furniture restoration, upholstery and textile
art. This brings together her passion for recycling, fixing things up and
being creative. Funky, is Meg’s way of describing the work she best likes. See
more at www.facebook.com/MUPfurniture
Graeme has been writing and regularly presenting writing workshops the last
several years. Most of his work is non-fiction. Drawing on his background in adult
learning, community development and the environment he has developed Little
Literature – poetry or prose that responds to art, place or events. See more at
This booklet presents the exhibition that bought Meg and Graeme’s work together,
including the making of Little Literature before the exhibition opening and then
during the period of the exhibition. The booklet closes with an invitation extended
to readers to share any thoughts or suggestions on Little Literature.
This was Meg Bishops and Graeme Gibson’s exhibit in the Desert Equinox Solar Art
Prize. The exhibit is in two parts – a pair of armchairs and a literary component. It
was exhibited in the Broken Hill Town Hall Facade.
Meg found the armchairs on a roadside at Huskisson NSW. Removal of several
layers of dark lacquer revealed the timber to be silky oak, a valuable cabinet
timber. The chairs were rebuilt, re-upholstered and embroidered with the Yin Yang
Yin and Yang – two halves that together complete wholeness. In Chinese
philosophy Yin and Yang describe how opposite forces (light and dark, fire and
water) are complimentary, interconnected and interdependent.
Installed adjacent the very comfortable armchairs is a literary component based on
This is participatory or performative art. You never know what you are going to get
until you get it. It needs a clear process, faith in the process and a steady nerve.
Some of the contributors to this exhibit think of themselves as poets or
writers. Others like playing with words. Some were just plain curious and wanted to
be involved. Participation is at the heart of Little Literature meaning all
contributions are equally valued.
On Friday March 18, just hours before the exhibition opening, 12 people joined a
tour of the AGL solar plant. During this a number of things were learnt:
• The plant supplies all of Broken Hill’s energy needs, with a large part being
exported to the grid
• The plant consists of 670,000 panels, making it about half the size of the solar
plant at Nyngan
• The largest solar plant in the world, in the United States, is nine million panels
• The plant requires a very small workforce to maintain.
Some of the participants on the Solar Plant tour. The peaks in the background are known
as “The Pinnacles.” Significant landmarks in a flat landscape
On returning from the tour nine people spent a couple of hours developing a literary
response – poetry or prose – to the solar plant tour along with issues of balance.
Equinox, after all, is same length day and night. Or black and white. Or balance.
Over that period 14 pieces were produced and installed adjacent the two armchairs.
These are shown below. There was no time for other than handwriting, although
this illustrates the immediacy and authenticity of the work.
“Light on black gives light,” Lois Eaton
Meg Bishop with the Yin Yang chairs and the installation of literary work
Visitors to the Equinox = Balance = Comfort exhibit were invited to sit and
contemplate balance and what it means to them as individuals, for their families,
their community and the broader Australian society.
This is an important issue that few people take time to reflect upon. Visitors were
then invited to leave a response on a flip-chart. Community engagement like this
extends the exhibit and the concept behind it beyond the formal exhibition.
Artists Monica Rudhar and Mitchell Thomas
A simple conversation starter was provided, along with prompts on the flip chart:
Balance is not just what keeps us upright.
Balancing work, rest and play add meaning to our lives, creates a sense of
A range of responses were recorded following these prompts, some philosophical,
some light-hearted, even whimsical. Some early responses are shown below:
AND … being able to contribute to the community, family and friends brings balance to our lives
AND … the world is currently out of sorts. It needs rebalancing
AND … I think the man who went to the ATM over the road was worried about his balance
AND … Even physicists know that the smallest molecule can have the biggest impact. It’s a matter of time, distance and perspective
AND … Balance is achieved not only from opposite forces (good Vs bad, black Vs white) but through the spectrum that connects the two. There is always a spectrum
AND … Balance is always fluctuating, requiring constant adjustments to maintain
AND … I word too hard (but I’m not complaining, usually)
AND … If you tip the balance in your favour is it still balanced?
AND … I’d say no, even if it doesn’t influence other people, I’d say no, it’s not balanced
AND … Maybe we need to think about the impact of our behaviour on other people
AND … Darkness cannot exist without light
AND … Prince of Darkness (Hades) and Queen of Light (Ceres) join together breeding electron children
AND … Balance is having a little bit of everything you love in life
AND … And a lot of some really special things that you love
AND … Balance the self; feminine and masculine sides; my adult life and inner child
These responses were then provided to people with an invitation to respond
through either: ten minutes of free writing (stream of consciousness) – using the
creative right-side brain, turning off the left-side brain inner critic and self editor;
OR, a thoughtful and considered piece, taking as long as needed, but with a limit of
A further eight works were received through to the end of the exhibition. These are
Balancing work, rest and play adds meaning to our lives,
creates a sense of wholeness –
and allows us to exist between white noise and dark silence
in the reflection of self
only squandered time will throw us off kilter
shade by shade we will sift black to ash
searching for a neutral space in which to grow
freestyle – bending and aching
towards un-meaning things
in and out of unquenchable dreams
as worldly impulses stretch beneath the skin
at the edge of chaos
adjustment intersects purpose
tilts the focus back
to steady taps against the chest –
an equal beat of light and shadow.
Barbara De Franceschi
Balance can be a constant juggling act. Sometimes we can lean too heavily on one or
two particular issues and neglect what others may consider more pressing matters.
To a free thinking person this can lead one into a ‘trap’ – not because they should be
doing what others think they should be focused on, but one’s response to their
concerns. It is when we let ourselves get into this frame of thinking that our lives do
become unbalanced. Unbalanced to the point where one tends to question one’s own
set of priorities in order to please others. When this occurs, find a quiet place to sit,
shut out the outside world and rebalance inner thoughts. Remind yourself, life is
really about being who you choose to be and not a process of trying to adapt your
life to fit in with other people’s concepts of who you should be.
Darkness cannot exist without light
Light cannot exist without dark
Dark in the nightfall
Daylight until dark
Dark side of the moon
Moonlight until light fall
Shades of lightness
Lightness falls into darkness
Sunlight sun brightness
Bright lights until shadow falls
Shadow of light
Light, dark, moonshine
Sunlight sun falls
Brightness to dark side
Darkness to Brightside
Black, white shades of grey
Nightfall day less times
Forget black or white… shadows fall
Inside, outside… outside in
Bright light, starry nights
Light on night time falls
Broken Hill… dawn falls
Sunrise, Sunset, horizon nears
Horizon in the distance
Below & Beyond, forever near
Faraway distance is near
Black, White, red, blue beyond
Faraway is so… near
Tears fall, dusk blows beyond our distance
Faraway you become, but so near far away
Balance is fine when we are dealing with gravity. It stops us falling over. But
between light and dark? Should we be aiming for a perpetual grey? What if I like
blue more than red? Does that mean my paintings and clothes are out of balance?
And if you like red more than blue is one of us ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’? When
we think that light is taken to be ‘good’ and dark ‘evil’ - (in almost all cultures)
surely balance between good and evil is not what we want, but the total elimination
of evil, and the total advancement of good?
When the temperature is 46 degrees centigrade and the water supply is seriously
threatened, then it is easy to think of light as bad and dark as good. The last thing
we want is elimination of dark. So I suppose that it all depends on how good and evil
are defined. The cultures that define men as good and women as evil certainly need
to find balance, or they will die out. But then again, maybe some cultures need to die
out - or at least change somewhat.
How do I balance work and play if I consider my job in the ‘play’ category?
And how do I balance work and family if the only reason I go to work is to support
my family? If life can be compared with climbing a mountain, from birth at the base
till we reach the summit and are promoted to another, better world, then balance is
all about staying on the path we are called to walk on.
If an avalanche is threatening to knock me off the path, then balance is about
finding a way to survive the avalanche, get back on my feet, and keep plodding on.
If distractions are calling me off the path then balance is about focussing.
Mechanically, balance is all about having the center of mass directly over a stable
point. So life’s balance is about being centered in safe situations. But then how do
we grow if life is not challenging us? Of course, if keeping that point where it is
supposed to be is difficult, then that is all the challenge we will need.
The greatest reason for finding balance? The balanced gymnast can support others,
lifting them up higher. That is why we need to find balance. So that we can lift
others up. The balanced gymnast can move freely and energetically around others
without hurting them, or tripping them up. The balanced gymnast can flow with
others and create beauty.
AND … the world is currently out of sorts. It needs rebalancing
This response really struck me, because I’ve been thinking about this for a while
now—the ‘out of sorts’ world we currently live in, and the great deal of readjusting it
needs. As technology improves and the human intelligence continues to grow, our
overall perspective on life is changing and becoming askew. Our lives revolve
around computers, phones, robotics, the internet. We are losing our ability to
interact with one another and to form real relationships with people, animals, and
the natural world around us. The more our perspective on life becomes unbalanced,
the more our world becomes unbalanced.
We grow up thinking we are all unique individuals fighting for the lightness against
the darkness, success against failure, riches over poverty, for life against death.
This battle is an illusion because the idea that we are all separate individuals is an
illusion. We need to take a step back from all of this fantasy that we have created
for ourselves and realize that all human beings, plants, animals, and elements are
one and the same, and that we cannot exist without each other. What is a person
without land to live on or living beings to love and interact with? Our world is
falling out of sorts because humanity is falling out of sorts. It needs rebalancing
Finding the balance within, finding time for all aspects of your Self.
Dressing up my feminine side with glitter and eye liner and letting my masculine
side out hunting.
Keeping my appearance in line with what society approves of by covering my
tattoos and taming back my hair and letting myself rebel by donning an outlandish
outfit or wearing a costume for no reason.
Being the adult and taking care of what we must through diligence and doggedness
and then just rolling on the floor with the dogs.
The world is currently out of sorts. It needs rebalancing …
While there have been undeniable improvements to the human condition – many
(but not all) live longer, happier, more productive lives – there is a need to
Considering the environmental, social and economic impacts of policies and major
decisions was called the triple bottom line. It was meant to guide us to a better
future. It has failed on all three fronts.
When humanity uses resources at a rate greater than they can be replenished it is
not sustainable. To claim it to be so is dishonest.
Throughout Australia levels of inequality are widening. The greatest determinant of
health, educational and social outcomes is postcode.
Gross Domestic Product is a poor indicator of human wellbeing. The rich get richer
while maintaining hand-on-heart solidarity with the notion of trickle down.
This is a wonderful world populated by people of immense potential. Dominated by
myopic leaders focused on election cycles and corporate profits.
The world is currently out of sorts. It needs rebalancing …
As I sit and ponder, gaze out and look around,
I realize balance keeps our world alive, it's part of all surround.
All on earth needs balance, for our well being it is essential,
and decisions made with a balanced mind, are ones made with full potential.
The balance of the seasons, from summer through to spring,
enables our world to encompass nature, and all the good things it will bring.
Have you ever seen a one winged bird soar smoothly in the sky,
all things above need balanced wings, to enable them to fly.
Ever seen a three wheeled car being driven down the street,
or had a chair with a broken leg and tried to take a seat.
And all of us earthly beings, who have this great planet to share,
need constant balance in our lives, as much as we need our air...
This is for you to make note of any ideas or particular thoughts you have on reading
this booklet. If you feel like sharing please send to:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
This will help us do better in future.
Thanks for reading!
Published by Broken Hill Art Exchange and More Than Just Talk, 2016.
© Individual authors retain copyright over their individual contributions.
Copyright over this compilation is with Graeme Gibson of More Than Just Talk