MAC to host celebration of Red Cliffs soldier settlement identities

Published on 06 April 2021

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Mildura Arts Centre (MAC) will hold a celebratory event this weekend marking three premiere exhibitions that bring together the lives and work of two like-minded friends from Red Cliffs’ soldier settlement period - Leslie Chandler and Eileen Ramsay.

Eileen lived in Red Cliffs after her family moved there following World War 1 and began collecting plants in the late 1940s, eventually assembling a collection of more than 1000, including adding 10 species to the list of plants formally recorded in Victoria.

Born in 1888, Leslie Chandler has strong connections to the Red Cliffs community as one of the town’s original soldier settlers, and the father of well-known Red Cliffs resident Mary Chandler, who was instrumental in bringing together the three exhibitions.

Mr Chandler enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces on 8 July 1915 and following the end of the First World War immersed himself in his passion for nature and photography, including working at times with Eileen.

MAC is excited as these events also celebrate the reactivation following the impact of COVID-19, serving as the 2021 program launch. MAC is proud to feature these three exhibitions that celebrate their respective subjects’ lives, and their shared passion for nature, which will be showcased over two days on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 April through the following events: 

Exhibition Celebration
6pm, Saturday 10 April
RSVPs essential by 4pm, Thursday 8 April to Mildura Arts Centre

Curator’s Talk: The Mallee on the Map
2pm, Saturday 10 April

Artist’s Talk: Soundscape and Landscape
2:30pm, Saturday 10 April

Exhibition Talk: Les Chandler: ahead of his time
11am, Sunday 11 April

All three events are ticketed. There will be no walk-ups. Tickets are available from

Councillor for Arts, Culture and Heritage Mark Eckel said the three exhibitions were fitting legacies for Leslie and Eileen.

“Leslie Chandler and Eileen Ramsay accomplished so much individually, and collectively through their respective projects at a very important time for our region, during the soldier settlement years,” Cr Eckel said.

“These three fantastic exhibitions are a great way to not only highlight their contributions, but to provide a lasting reminder, and a snapshot, of this period in our region’s history.

“Importantly, they also coincide with Red Cliffs’ centenary and speak of another extension of the culture that defines the Red Cliffs community, past and present.”


Exhibition details

Mallee on the Map
Mallee on the Map is a joint presentation by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and MAC.

It focuses on Eileen’s dedicated work as a passionate plant collector, and her desire to put the Mallee on the map.

A self-described ‘lover of the wild’, Eileen collected more than 1000 plants over a decade, which were originally conserved at MAC before the collection was rehoused in the National Herbarium of Victoria at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, where it contributes to critical science and conservation research.

Mallee on the Map provides a special glimpse into this important collection and celebrates Eileen’s life and botanical legacy and will remain on exhibition until Sunday 25 April..

Soundscape and Landscape
Soundscape and Landscape, an installation by Christine Johnson, was inspired by Eileen Ramsay’s poem The Troopships of Anzac, in which she imagines soldiers on the voyage from Albany, Western Australia, bound for Anzac Cove.

It explores the grief and loss Eileen is said to have experienced after losing her two brothers, Alan and Tom, in the First World War at Gallipoli in 1915.

The Soundscape component of the exhibition was created by Christine Johnson and sound artist Angus Craig and begins before dawn along the banks of the Murray River at Red Cliffs.

It’s a place Eileen may have sometimes visited on ANZAC Day to listen to early morning birdsong and see the sunrise.

The Landscape component was created by Christine and features two landscapes – Coastline, Gallipoli, Turkey, and Riverbank, Red Cliffs, Victoria, - which hang opposite one another, and at first glance appear very similar, but are depictions of locations on opposite sides of the world.

Soundscape and Landscape is Christine’s first exhibition at MAC since her successful Voyages Botanical in October 2016. It will remain on exhibition until Sunday 2 May.

Les Chandler: ahead of his time
One of Australia’s early ornithologists and conservationists, and one of Red Cliffs’ original soldier settlers, Les was a prolific photographer whose pictures have hung all over the world including England, USA, Canada, India, Japan and Australia.

He often adapted equipment in the course of trying to take the right photograph whether it was the fleeting image of a bird, a characterful old cowshed, or a picture of himself working the block or literally perched up the top of a Mallee tree setting up a camera in a wedge-tailed eagle’s nest.

The exhibition provides, for the first time, the opportunity to view the range of Les Chandler’s incredible photography, some of his ingenious photographic equipment, and material selected from his archive.

Les Chandler: ahead of his time will remain on exhibition until Sunday 25 April.



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