New Lake Mac exhibition is Dead and Buried

Date posted: 7 August 2018

Johnston family cemetery, Barnsley, c.1890s

A new exhibition in Swansea delves into the fascinating history of cemeteries in Lake Macquarie and the colourful characters laid to rest within them.

Dead and Buried, opening at the SEEN@Swansea exhibition space on Saturday 11 August, also outlines the evolution of local interment methods, from the burial customs of the local Awabakal people prior to European settlement to the funerary processes of today.

Council Cultural Services Manager Jacqui Hemsley said the exhibition would explore a subject often overlooked in today’s society.

“Death is life’s one inevitability. People often shy away from the subject, but dealt with in a respectful manner, an exhibition like this is both interesting and informative,” Ms Hemsley said.

The exhibition features a range of real-life items relating to the modern funeral industry, including an actual mortuary table, body bags, funeral urns and samples of putty and fluid used in the embalming process.

Information panels central to the display explore some of Lake Macquarie’s earliest formal cemeteries, as well as cemeteries still operating across the City.

In the early years of settlement in Lake Macquarie, burial on private property remained the most efficient way to dispose of the dead.

One of the oldest surviving private cemeteries is that of the Johnston family in Barnsley, the oldest headstone of which dates back to 1890.

Ms Hemsley said the exhibition’s information panels also provided an insight into some of the more interesting people laid to rest in Lake Macquarie over the past 150 years, including convicts, shipwreck victims and those killed in local mining disasters.

“One of the things we wanted to do was not only look at the past, but also the present and future,” Ms Hemsley said.

“With that in mind, we’ve included panels about the modern funeral industry, the cost of burial and cremation in NSW and emerging, high-tech methods of laying someone to rest.”

The exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

It is suitable for all ages and runs Saturday 11 August – Sunday 7 October 2018.

SEEN@Swansea is located on the mezzanine of the Swansea Centre, opposite Swansea Library.

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Article by Lake Macquarie City Council

Page last updated: 7 August 2018