Rough & Cut offers a vivid perspective on the opal mining town Coober Pedy and its desert surroundings. Infamous for its under ground dug outs and rolling hills shaped by the opal trade. The town’s isolation is palpable throughout the photographs, which is suffused with a strange dreamlike quality. Residential signifiers are less apparent; the landscape of rocky outcrops and quarries replaces the suburban skyline familiar to city people.
These quiet chaotic scenes are of apparent bleak desolation, but underneath inhabitants enjoy a cohesive, idiosyncratic spirit. The remaining resilient miners still carry hope of anyones fortune but the trade is slow and the rich history and thriving global community is now but a toured story for travelling guests. Rough and Cut is a stage for engaging our imagination of the unsettling surreal beauty and unpredictability of the Australian outback.
Abigail Varney is a photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work is connected to narrative of place within her own country’s unique identity of land and people. After graduating from Photography Studies College in Melbourne, she completed an internship with the late, truly great Mary Ellen Mark in New York City. In 2014, her series of up-and-coming artists featured in the National portrait gallery in Canberra. Her latest work Rough and Cut, taken in Coober Pedy in 2015-2017 was displayed at Sydney’s Parliament House, announced Landscape Winner at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, featured at the Head on festival in Sydney 2017 and published as the Heart of the Nation photograph in the Australian Magazine.