The Rock Hunters is a photographic series inspired by the shared hobby of artist Lauren Bamford’s grandparents, Bonnie and Roy in the 1960s and 70s, and the town of Lightning Ridge NSW. The work is a result of Bamford’s experience of ‘fossicking’ through their home and discovering these treasures in unsuspecting places – gold nuggets wrapped up in tissues, amethysts in old cigarette tins. In contrast with their own fossicking through dirt, clay and streams, the artist discovered these uncut gems and minerals inside cardboard boxes and mouldy calico bags. She salvaged what she could, before the rest were unceremoniously sent to the tip, back to the earth.

Bamford travelled north and created a series of documentary images throughout the area of Lightning Ridge – the town most frequented by her grandparents. Like everyone that makes the pilgrimage to ‘the Ridge’, they were looking for rare black opal. The monochromatic images are printed by hand, in the darkroom, onto rocks using liquid emulsion. The rocks are Finch Claystone, and were fossicked off the mullock heaps by the artist, in Lightning Ridge.