On a recent visit to Orange to open the Gavin Wilson curated Interiors exhibition at Orange Regional Gallery, I was also fortunate to visit the latest exhibition at the Orange Regional Museum.
Paddock to Plate, curated by Sandra McEwen, presents a history of food and wine production in and around Orange and district. Originally from the Central West, and with a background in biochemistry, McEwen enjoyed a long career at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) as a curator of biotechnologies and as a principal curator. In 1969 her family left the district so you can imagine her delight to be invited back some 30 years later to curate and tell this significant story.
And what a remarkable and rich story it is. Remarkable because of the region’s rich agricultural profile, but also because Paddock to Place brings to fruition Orange Regional Museum’s long held vision. A vision to tell this story through the long held knowledge of members of the Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council, and the eyes and collections of historical societies based in Canowindra, Molong and Millthorpe, and of course, Orange itself. Read more about the exhibition here http://www.orangemuseum.com.au
The Wiradjuri people inhabited this area for tens of thousands of years, using and eating abundant plants, mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. Dispossession led to this lifestyle being disrupted. With the arrival of sheep, cattle, new plants and British ideas about land ownership, Aboriginal people were denied access to their familiar resources and way of life. New ways of working the land and new agricultural practices commenced and have continued to this day.
Paddock to Plate covers remarkable terrain, not the least being the commitment of local museum volunteers, storytellers and collectors. Rich agriculture in the Central West of NSW is equally matched by a commitment to museum practice. The recent establishment of the Orange Regional Museum significantly adds to the vibrancy of Orange Regional Council’s community and cultural profile and the commitment of local individuals and groups to support programs run.