This too shall pass

Melissa Urquhart with her art installation of Mary Thompson's slides on display at Saint Florian in Castlemaine.

The work of late local photographer, Mary Thompson, has been given new life after a series of old slide films were discovered in an abandoned mine.
The son of local artist Melissa Urquhart, and a friend were venturing in the bush when they stumbled across the historic mine site and a series of slides of local landmarks and buildings.
“The boys didn’t even know what the slides were, but knew I liked ‘weird old stuff’, so brought them home to me,” Melissa told theĀ Mail.
“As a child, I loved slide film. It was like a magic little world that you wouldn’t know about until you held it up to the light.”
Melissa found the name Mary Thompson penned in ink on one of the slides and reached out to residents on the Castlemania Facebook page for information. She received two messages and an obituary for Mary who died on March 12, 2021, written by Jackie McMaster.
Jackie wrote that Mary had lived in Chewton for many years on her charming property, Tranquil Valley, and remembered her as a kind, warm, caring person who was very community-minded.
“People also remember Mary as inspiring, bright, adventurous, progressive, creative, and bold,” read the obituary.
“Mary is known for being a much-loved craft and photography teacher at Castlemaine Tech as well as a volunteer for many community organisations and causes,” Jackie wrote.
Melissa has celebrated Mary’s work in an installation entitledĀ This Too Shall Pass, using an array of found objects of wire, bone, monofilament, glass, and wood, currently on display in the window of Saint Florian Cafe in Templeton Street. The translucent objects used in the piece capture the light and give attention to pieces that are no longer commonplace, particularly the slide film.
The mystery of why Mary’s slide film was discarded remains unsolved, but in this installation, her work is celebrated in a posthumous collaboration.
“I feel like I’ve done a collaboration with an awesome woman. I hope I’ve done her justice,” Melissa said.

Jade Jungwirth
Jade is the former Editor of the Tarrangower Times and has lived in the region for over 16 years.