Liddell WORKS is a creative program marking the closure of the Liddell power station, and its long legacy. The core of the program is 15 artist “residencies” where artists respond to the power station with fresh individual expressions, culminating in an exhibition in mid 2024.
In early June artist Todd Fuller embarked on a visit to Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre and Branxton, as part of his LiddellWORKS residency. Todd’s project aimed to capture the essence of the power station by portraying its workers, in both image and sound.
Todd possesses a diverse artistic practice encompassing sculpture, moving image, performance and painting. However, at the core of his artistic expression lies a profound affinity for drawing. Notably, Todd himself has roots in the Upper Hunter region, with familial ties to Liddell.
During his latest engagement, Todd conducted interviews and skilfully crafted portraits of around 20 individuals associated with Liddell, including both current and former employees. This immersive experience had an impact on Todd, shifting his perceptions and enhancing his understanding of the subject matter.
“I am incredibly grateful to the Liddell community, who have given me their time over the last few weeks. They have trusted me with their stories, memories, and image, as well as their vulnerabilities, hopes, beliefs, and knowledge. I have heard poems, personal insights, jokes, hardships, observations and narratives which stretch across generations. Through the last few weeks of interviews, I have understood Liddell not simply as a place of work but as a place of family, with a focused dedication to a common task. This building casually achieved incredible milestones of power generation, was effortlessly innovative, and fostered a unique culture. From feral cats to social clubs, phantom scribes and tool shop antics, each interview gave me something new and unexpected. It has been a privilege to be able to capture this history and contribute to their preservation through this project. “
Photo: Taken by Suzannah Jones.
Arts Upper Hunter are thrilled to have Will Maguire, artist, sculptor and blacksmith playing a fundamental role in the LiddellWORKS project during 2023/24.
Prior to closure, Will ran workshops at the Bayswater site with Liddell workers, who forged some wonderful masterpieces using repurposed steel and tools from Liddell, giving them a lasting, holdable, useful memory of the now closed power station.
Will is also working on a monumental public art piece for Muswellbrook, and will also be a part of AUH’s community event Create By The Lake in October, which will give the community an opportunity to work alongside Will and create their own small, usable object and memento of Liddell. Through the creative process, Will’s objective is ‘to understand the history of Liddell and observe its current material reality. Then interpret these understandings in real objects (eg. pipes resisting steam pressure and transporting liquid, combustion inside closed furnaces, invisible electricity in wires, the indistinct haze of emissions) with the action both perceivable and appreciable to human viewers.’ Will sees the process of blacksmithing having many parallels with Liddell’s act of burning coal to produce power.
Photo: Will Maguire and Polly Yuille. Taken by Jo Ferguson