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Art - Vale: a history of death and dying in Bendigo 1851-1901 explores essential aspect of life

Emma Busowsky Cox is a curator and writer with specialisation in Australian art, exhibitions, collections and museums. Currently she is the  Curator, City History and Collections at Bendigo Art Gallery.

She writes in the Bendigo Advertiser about early deaths in the Victorian Gold Fields around Bendigo, and the emergence of government regulations on burial grounds, which will be the focus of an exhibition at the Gallery in 2019:

amuel Calverts wood engraving Discovery of a skeleton in the Kamarooka scrub.jpgThe discovery of gold in Bendigo in 1851 precipitated a massive influx of migrants from many nations and faiths to the area, bringing with them their practices to mourn and remember the dead. 

The multitudes that came to Bendigo added a variety of customs to those observed by the Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung people for centuries.

Ahead of the first Official Registration of Deaths in Victoria in 1853 and the appointment of the first Deputy Registrars of Births and Deaths in the Goldfields in 1855, many early pioneers of Bendigo were buried in bush graves. 


In 1854, the Victorian Government’s Act for the Establishment and Management of Cemeteries in the Colony of Victoria stipulated that a burial ground must be located at least one mile from town, and, as such, the burial ground was closed.

Read the full article

Vale: mourning, remembrance and Spiritualism in Bendigo 1851 - 1901

The exhibition "Art | Vale: a history of death and dying in Bendigo 1851-1901 explores essential aspect of life" is scheduled for 13 Dec 18 - 31 Mar 2018 athe Bendigo Art Gallery.


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