Magic Mountains

A person lives not only their personal life, as an individual, but also, consciously or unconsciously, the life of their epoch

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain.

Magic Mountains was commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) Open during the Covid-19 lockdown. It tells the story of the search for the grave of Zanny Begg’s great-grandfather (in-law) Bernard Patrick Murray who is buried in the bush near Helensburgh alongside two thousand other victims of a previous pandemic, tuberculosis. Magic Mountains follows Zanny’s daughter Saoirse as she goes in search of Bernard’s grave; activating the ghosts of ancestors past and connecting the experiences of pandemics across the generations.  This artwork operates via a touchscreen – you can explore the stories in any order and shift between stories at any moment by clicking on the icon below.

Thanks to the Illawarra Lands Council for permission to film on Dharawal land. The Garrawarra burial site is on unceded Aboriginal Land and contains the remains of Aboriginal people who died of TB alongside many others.

This artwork includes sound as an important component, please turn on sound and/or put your headphones and click the icon below to enter the work.

Thanks to:


Other funders:

Culture Bank Wollongong
Australia Council for the Arts Resilience Fund
Create NSW Quick Response Grant

Magic Mountains was shortlisted for the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Arts 2021.

Images: Dean Howell, production stills, Magic Mountains, 2020.