Rough & Cut offers a vivid perspective on the opal mining town Coober Pedy and its desert surroundings. Infamous for its underground dugouts 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 anyone’s 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.
All images and text © Abigail Varney
By Abigail Varney