Wednesday 30 October 2013

Lorraine Looney

Lorraine Looney, Councillor for Central Darling Shire Council

Introducing Lorraine, who has been a strong supporter of the Beckler Project from our first year.

Verbena africana

We bought our property in Menindee on the banks of the Darling River in 1973 and came out to live 1975. We saw the massive flood in 1976. As a child I grew up in Broken Hill and we did a lot of bush walking. I always wondered how Aboriginal people survived without a shop. I used to pick wild flows to take home to Mum, but they always wilted! That was the beginning of my interest in bush tucker food. I still walk a lot, and I love open spaces.

I went to school a couple of years back to do a night course in Aboriginal Studies. It came about because when I became a councillor an Aboriginal man approached me to have a look at their class. I was interested, so I enrolled from there. Unfortunately the course couldn't continue, but I would like to have been able to finish it.

As a councillor for the Central Darling Shire I was involved with the 150 year anniversary of the Burke and Will Expedition. We had a reinactment. When that was over I saw a piece in the school news about the open days of this project [Beckler's Botanical Bounty Project]. So I had to come and have a look! Looking at what everyone was doing was fascinating. People were looking under microscopes and identifying species.

Each year I have come back to say hello.

One year I was encouraged to draw my own flower. It was Verbena africana -- the simple one! Mali gave me the choice of the verbena or the warrigal greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides). I chose the verbena because it was less complicated. It is a medicinal plant, so it interested me as well.
Verbena africana, original art work by Lorraine Looney
I also create art works of recycled objects. I have used window frames to make little dunnies. One of my specialities is red back spiders to go in the dunnies. They are made out of gum nuts and little twigs.

I made a mosaic of the Maidens Hotel, where Burke and Wills stayed. I found objects like little stones, glass and ceramic pieces from outside the hotel to decorate the frame.

Every year I have entered an exhibition that Netwaste run, called 'Waste to Art'. Each shire has a local competition and the winner goes to a regional exhibition. One year they had the exhibition here in Menindee. I won the Curator's award for one of my art works. It was creation of fungi made from various recycled things like cotton buds, and an old ball. I put it all in the lid of an old mushroom box.

Lorraine's art work, Winner of the Curator's Award in 'Waste to Art' Exhibition.

I would like to see the full collection of Beckler's plants being painted. That would be amazing.

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