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Liddell Power Station closure immortalised in art


Sixteen artists from across the Hunter and byond have found a unique way to mark the closure of the Liddell Power Station. 

The selected group of creatives entered the now-decommissioned Upper Hunter facility in its final days, using the retired coal-fired station as the model, the muse, the subject, the theme, of their artworks, with some even incorporating parts of the iconic landmark into their creations. 

Liddell Power Station. Photo: Anna Rankom.

Created pieces include sculpture, photography, sound installation, pottery, 3D video recording, portraiture, blacksmithing, and wearable art. 

In bringing to life their remarkable pieces, the artists sought to record Liddell’s transformation and honour the legacy of its people. 

The works, a partnership between Arts Upper Hunter (AUH) and AGL, will be exhibited at galleries in both Muswellbrook and Singleton until August. 

“Liddell, visible from the highway, was a milestone and imaginative marker in the local community,” says Arts Upper Hunter executive director John O’Brien.  

“Many artists picked up on this iconic status and their works are part celebration, part elegy. 

“Liddell is a place of history and a place of transformation, and for artists, that’s a deeply appealing combo.  

“They have struck a careful balance between the realities of climate change and greenhouse gas production and the essential work of providing electricity for 50 years.”   

Artist Rachel Milne’s take on the Liddell Power Station.

The “in-residence” program formed part of LiddellWORKS, documenting the occasion of the lights going out at Liddell. 

The exhibitions run at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre from Thursday 6 June until Wednesday 25 August, and Singleton Arts & Cultural Centre from Saturday 8 June until Sunday 11 August.  

Two venues means two opening events, both of which are free.  

The first is on Saturday 8 June at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre from 4pm and the second at Singleton Arts & Cultural Centre on Friday 14 June from 6pm.  

Liddell helped to keep the lights on across NSW and sustained businesses for more than half a century until powering down in April last year.  

The opening events provide an opportunity to meet the artists and the people behind the ambitious creative program responding to its closure.  

Many artists had family connections to Liddell.  

Liddell Power Station at sketching stage, by artist Rebecca Rath. Photo: Suellyn-Connolly.

Sydney-based Todd Fuller was one, his father having worked at Liddell for decades.

He engaged directly with the Liddell workforce and produced a series of 30 portraits while interviewing his subjects as they shared their stories.  

Will Maguire, a master blacksmith, sculptor, and artist from Lochinvar, created two bodies of work as part of the program.

“The first time you get to Liddell, it’s huge, and it’s concrete and steel and bricks,” he says.

“And, you’re decked out in all the safety gear and thinking, righto, this is a bit much.

“But, then you go in there and it has this weird liveliness about it.

“Our chaperone is telling us about the four-storey high furnaces, and the rows of crushers turning coal into powder, the systems to get rid of all the ash, the conveyors, the compressors, and the fans.

“The, of course, there are the turbines.

“I’m thinking, holy mackerel, this place is really lively. There’s heaps going on here even though the building seems static.

“And then I noticed how tiny the people look in relation to this huge building.

“There’s someone turning a nut and someone else staring at a monitor and the juxtaposition between the minuscule humans and the size of the plant is hilarious.

“That humorous element and the liveliness of the plant has trickled into my work for this show.”

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