Working for six years in the Forensic department of the South Australian Police Force developed Nici Cumpston’s eye for documenting crime scenes. Her haunting photographs, hand-coloured using watercolours and pencils, capture the ecological devastation wrought on the Murray-Darling Basin.

Cumpston’s lens shows an apocalyptic landscape caused by the re-routing of the river, pollution and salination. Tree stumps, casualties of ring-barking, hover above sandy soil, their tangle of roots exposed; or dot the shoreline of Nookamka (Lake Bonney) like gravestones. The obliteration of the former indigenous campsite at Nookamka is particularly poignant for Cumpston who has connections to the Murray Darling River System through her Barkindji heritage.

Cumpston has undertaken commissions for Shepparton Art Museum and for the Department of Health and the Commonwealth Law Courts in Adelaide. She is represented in major state and university collections in Australia and in the internationally renowned Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection at the University of Virginia, USA.

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