Over 800 Souls was created with extensive collaboration with community groups of Broken Hill including historical societies, schools, sporting clubs, museums and social groups and involved drawing 800 people from the history of Broken Hill onto the walls of an unused house in the outback town. The title of the work references the Miner’s Memorial that overlooks the town, which speaks of the ‘over 800 souls’ who’ve lost their lives in the town’s mines.
The work engaged with the community to understand the impact the stories we tell ourselves have on our identities, and our sense of place. Alongside this the project engaged with the community at grassroots level to look at how we use space. Broken Hill has Australia’s highest amount of abandoned, and foreclosed homes. The installation celebrates the towns past to explore ideas about how we can use space to redefine identity.
The project culminated in an installation inside an unused space - the former home of The Broken Hill Housewives association. Once the cats and rats were out of the way (some living, some dead) James Price and the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery team hung over 25 hand painted canvases that featured drawn faces of Broken Hill citizens past and present. The original images were sourced from groups within the community.
Here on the walls of the space the 800 faces became a democratic pattern of life in the outback town. It was a lot of colour, energy, and hard work but the finish result felt so unique to the place it belonged to it couldn’t have come from anywhere else.
The installation opened with a community celebration event, complete with DJ’s and Food Vans.
More of the project and artist website here: https://www.theartofjamesprice.com/community
Over 800 Souls Installation. Photograph by James Price
Over 800 Souls Educational Workshop Photograph by Blake Griffiths
Over 800 Souls Opening. Photograph by Alexandra Rosenblum