Are You From Here?

“Are you from here?” is always a good question to ask someone you meet for the first time in a country town. In larger cities, people are much more likely to ask you what you do for a living. But in country towns, establishing where you’re from usually means “six degrees of separation” can often be reduced to just one or two.

The woman I spoke to earlier today obviously knew that rule. When I replied with the same question, she told me, “Oh, I’m from a small town, you wouldn’t know it, in country NSW”. “Try it”, I thought to myself, confident that I’ve lived and travelled around most of the state.

When she mentioned she was from Matong (a village near Wagga), I quickly mentioned my friend Kate had lived there for a number of years. The conversations flowed. She’s one of the main reasons I’m working in the arts today. Our parents owned the pub. Kate did paintings of the pub. You know Brian died? I last saw her in Townsville. She’s one of my best friends. There was much to connect us, and of course I called Kate straight away.

Our conversation continued at the opening of an exhibition by a local photographer, Sam McPherson. It’s also where I met the woman’s sister!

The exhihibition was being held in a gallery at the base of the Conservatorium of Music, not far from the Lismore Regional Gallery. I’d never seen the “hole in the wall gallery” before, but the woman I spoke to told me many people had mentioned to her they had previously been in the same space that was once Lismore High School.

Sam takes photographs of nature. “He’ll tell you about some places, but he keeps others secret, because they’re special to him”, one of the people speaking at the exhibition opening said.

The wonderful informality of a socially-distanced outdoor opening of an exhibition in Lismore

There’s a lot of terrific art to be found around Lismore, including some wonderful public art, such as street paintings and sculptures.

Goanna sculpture outside the Lismore Regional Art Gallery

Overall, it’s been a day for getting out and about around town.

I started the day of adventure at the Robinson’s Lookout. Located the top of of Girard’s Hill, I always remembered the lookout offered splendid views over the city. Thirty years later, and the views are somewhat obscured by trees, which is both a good and bad thing.

Wilsons Walk, Lismore

A walk into town took me through some bushland, sports fields, and through some housing.

As there are often floods in Lismore, many houses are on “stilts”. Here’s an example from Keen Street, Lismore.
There’s still a wall of photographs from when the Queen stayed at The Gollan Hotel in Lismore in 1954. They’ve thrown the bed out, according to the barmaid. The pub has a new owner who will do it up a bit, she told me.
Even though I have walked past this sculpture in Lismore hundreds of times, I didn’t know until today there was a sound installation created by our old Richmond River High School schoolmate, Colin Black, to accompany the sculpture. You learn something new every day.…/27_The_Butter_Churn…

2 Replies to “Are You From Here?”

  1. Nice to meet people who you have an obvious connection to.. in a six degrees of separation kind of way!

    1. Thanks Matthew. The arts scene in Lismore is a little quiet right now, with a bunch of things cancelled/postponed due to COVID, so discovering the exhibition, and having that lovely chat made for a very pleasant surprise.

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