Who is Stanley? Stanley is a new friend, he stands 18 metres tall and is on the highway as you head into Lightning Ridge.  He is an emu and is the brain child, well probably blood child of John Murray local artist of The Ridge. It has been such an inspiration watching this project come together, originally it was conceived as John drove across the desert near Birdsville, but thats 10,000 kms from Lightning Ridge and the logistics and funding just made it impossible. So John decided to make him in his hometown, and it has brought many parts of the community together to make a dream reality. And the added bonus is its made completely from recycled objects, the old Dubbo Police station is his legs, satalite dishes for eyes, and sorry VW but repurposed beetles for his body and tail. The opening was fantastic, there were local dancers, speeches, fireworks and it was so clear that this wasnt just one persons dream anymore this had become part of the town. It makes me think anything is possible, if you have the right intentions and stay true to your own ideas, then just keep working on it and a year or two or five later the fruits arrive.

The Road Trip A trip to the ridge involves 900 km’s of driving so there is a lot of time to think along the way and of course with thinking comes making and public toilets. It was cotton picking time so there were cotton balls everywhere just begging to be collected, and road kill big and small, the most beautiful butterflies didnt escape.

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Beauty in the Discarded There is beauty in the discarded items of nature and man. Nature always fights to reclaim whatever we leave behind, petals fall, grass grows and fences are obscured, the dust settles onto everything. Cars and trucks continuously pass the roadsides slowly grinding everything back into the dirt.

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Inspiration in The Ridge Lightning Ridge is an opal mining town full of characters, dust and rocks. There is a rock maze that is on one of the car door tours, carefully pieced together from the discarded rocks. The tumblers that they use to find opal in the rock that comes out of the ground also does beautiful things to stones, smoothing them and turns wood into driftwood. The metal, rust and trucks are endless,  the harsh conditions make everything age and weather.

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The Results After all those miles and all there was to see and do, a few baskets have made their way out of the workroom in preparation for Currency of Birdsong, an exhibition that forms part of the Floating Land Festival here on the Sunshine Coast.

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I love a good road trip, and its made even better when you have something exciting to do when you get there,  Stanley’s opening was all it was cracked up to be and hanging out in the ridge where things cant get complicated is always fun. Heres some links for you to share

John Murray Art     Vik Images       John Murray Art Facebook    Sydney Morning Herald Interview with John

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