Steel Life - Photography Exhibition Launch at the Uni Gallery

Tuesday, 24 September 2019, 06:30 pm

Please join Chancellor Mr Paul Jeans for the launch of the photographic exhibition

Steel Life by Murray McKean

Tuesday 24 September at 6:30PM
at the University Gallery
Callaghan Campus

All are welcome to attend this event. Refreshments will be provided.

The Newcastle BHP steelworks closed on September 30th, 1999. Twenty years on this photographic exhibition by Murray McKean offers a unique insight into the site post-closure.

Broken Hill Propriety (BHP) began mining silver, lead and zinc at Broken Hill in NSW in 1885. In 1915 the company ventured into steel and commissioned a steel making works to be opened on ten hectares of land by the Hunter River at Mayfield. During its operations it was one of the largest employers in Newcastle and defined the city as an industrial centre.

By the 1990s, the steelworks, affectionately known as 'big Harry's place', was to be phased out by the end of that decade, bringing to a close the operations of Australia’s oldest steel making operations that had employed over 50,000 people.

In 1999, Murray McKean’s photographs showed the site post closure in a state of ruin. Detritus from the steelworks is sprawled across the landscape in a kind of wreckage that documents the monumental scale and emotion of that time in Newcastle's history. The residual materials, and the evidence of absent workers, and workers as they clear the site, will remain tangible for many. Using the texture of the abandoned architecture of the site, Murray has preserved this period of our city's history with a series of poignant images that offer critical commentary on our collective memory twenty years on.

Exhibition dates 24 September to 19 October 2019 at the University Gallery

For more information about the launch or exhibition contact:

The University Gallery 

Open Wed-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat 12-4pm
T: +61 2 4921 5255

The University of Newcastle
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308

IMAGES: Steel Life number 21 2001 and FRONT: Steel Life number 14 2001 (detail), silver gelatin prints shot on 6 x 7 mm 100 iso film using a Mamiya RB 67 camera
Images courtesy of Murray McKean