Saturday, 16 October 2010

Gold Fever by Carollyn Rhodes Thompson

During my primary school years, I enjoyed the days when my mum and dad would take us kids out in the Landrover, prospecting for minerals. The land around Lake King was dotted with breakaway ridges that contained opal line and limestone ridges where pieces of fossil and small shells were embedded. It was like being an explorer searching for treasures. I was always intrigued about how shells could possibly be found so far from the beach.

Years later at a college art camp near Mt Magnet and Cue in the North West of Western Australia, I found that I had the same passion for prospecting that my father had. Richard, the driver of the college bus took us out to the edge of Lake Austin, not far from Cue, where there were old abandoned gold mines. As we all fossiked around looking at the relics and remains of the abandoned mine site, Elizabeth Ford, my painting lecturer and well known West Australian painter, found a piece of rock that looked like gold. As she was sharing her find, which we had all decided was gold, but at the same time, not being absolutely sure, a student found another piece. Then another. Everyone became excited. The focus was no longer on painting, but on finding gold. All eyes were glued to the ground. We were caught up in a frenzy of excitement. GOLD FEVER they call it.

It had been raining the day before and the dust had been washed from the rocks exposing the shiny gold. After several hours of scavenging, the sun was beginning to set and it was time to leave. As each of us climbed the bus steps we showed our findings. Every one of us had either found a piece or someone had given them a gold treasure.

The next day, being totally in awe of the dazzling gold and the prospect of finding our retirement fund, Elizabeth using her charm and warmth, borrowed the local drapers car and we drove frantically and excitedly out to the gold site to try our luck again. Maybe it was the time of day and the way the sun was hitting the ground, but we didn't find another piece.

It was a short but exhilarating moment in time. We didn't do much art that day but we certainly experienced something new and emotional.