Monday, December 20, 2010

Artwork considerations for the Cemetery

Throughout the consultative process there have been many considerations and expressions regarding the appropriateness of image/content/artwork to the cemetery location.  Prominent amongst those considerations has been the need for the completed artworks to express respect for the sensitivities of the community.  Subtlety and  reflection also feature at the forefront of community consensus as does the expression of cultural identity, history and  the natural environment of Serpentine.

The natural environment is particularly important as the cemetery is designated Bush Forever Site No 371 and effectively restricts future cemetery expansion.  A new cemetery is mooted for the nearby locality of Karnup and could place the existing Serpentine cemetery within a predominantly historical context.

In consideration of the impact potential vandalism and the natural elements could have towards the artworks, they will need to be structurally and technically excellent, able to withstand the test of time, requiring minimum maintenance and remain permanent for the foreseeable future.  That's about the standard call for non ephemeral public art.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Serpentine PCYC workshops

TJ, Alex and Clark - discussing this thing called "art making"

It was great to see the creative action at the PCYC workshops. Thanks to the efforts of Mark Warner (club President) everyone was keen and ready to get into the art making straight away.  During the preceding week Mark had spent some time informing all interested about the project, building up interest and enthusiasm, and when we arrived for the first workshop everyone was quite excited about the project and eager to be involved.  After the initial introduction to the project, Gloria presented a couple of short films produced by Karri Ann Kearing Salmon.  The films featured local community members from the nearby town of Pinjarra in the dramatic portrayal of local Nyungar traditional and contemporary stories.  The films were both humorous and poignant, and provided participants with some new knowledge that will help them to consider the project within a cross cultural context and to better appreciate Nyungar cultural connections to the region.

Everyone is busy, busy, busy

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The artmaking continues

Wow what a week!

The students from Serpentine Primary School have produced some amazing artworks. Gloria and I have been very impressed by the display of enthusiasm and artistic skill of the students.

I can remember my time at school.......................hmm that was a while back...............

and throughout my entire primary and secondary schooling I never had the opportunity to become involved in a public/community art project or get to meet professional artists practising in their field. I'm certain the impact of such activities will encourage students in helping them to develop their artistic dreams and ambitions as they learn to realise the scope of art and how it positively interacts with our society.
Kasey busy at work on her design

Jessica and Chelsea, working together on their designs

Bryce and Liam, Taking time out for a photo opportunity

Rachael and Kate busy translating their great ideas to paper

Monday, November 1, 2010

The student workshops continue!

Here are some images of the Serpentine Primary School students producing some drawings and reflecting upon the information Gloria and I had imparted to them the preceding week.

Taylah and Jesse

George and Caleb

Drawing in action

Justine and Jessika

Serpentine Primary School Workshops

Gloria introducing Serpentine Primary School year 1 students 's to the project

Gloria and I completed the first series of project introduction workshops with the students from Serpentine Primary School on October 21st , another 2-3 series of design and art making workshops will be facilitated with them, the introduction workshops were very successful and productive.

The intent of the workshop series has been to engage the students in a process of enquiry into the cultural and environmental values of the Serpentine Cemetery and town locality. Gloria had identified a number of traditional bush medicines and tuckers that are growing within the Serpentine Cemetery and presented examples of these to students (the presented plants came from other places) and explained their uses.

The plants included Bourn – a slender and sometimes tall above 1mt bulbous plant with an appearance similar to an orchid (flower is totally different). The plant is believed to contain anti cancer qualities and has been traditionally used in the treatment of body and stomach pain. Students were also shown a live Bardi grub as Gloria explained how to identify them in their habitat. A short film titled “Karla” (meaning fire in the Nyungar language) produced by Karri Ann was also shown to the students, helping them to better appreciate traditional Nyungar culture and the cross cultural importance of the cemetery.

Several students expressed they had family and relatives whose deceased remains now reside in the cemetery, and it was timely that their comments and sentiments reminded us of the importance of the task at hand. All were enthusiastic about being involved in the project and I believe the project introduction provided the students with a considerable amount of new information and successfully achieved our aim in highlighting the cultural and environmental value of the cemetery. I’m certain the newly acquired information will combine with their creative imagination and act as a spring board in helping them to generate sensitive and colourful artworks.

Gloria Kearing and I will facilitate the student engagement process and guide them through the development of their designs and drawings which they will then translate onto ceramic tiles. These tile artworks will later be incorporated into larger artworks that may be installed within the Serpentine cemetery, Primary school and town environs. Karrie–Ann Kearing Salmon (project cultural consultant) is collaborating with the Council of Traditional Land Owners and SWALCA and will assist the project with further information of Aboriginal cultural value as the project unfolds.

Umm....................that smells like Eucalyptus

Hmm..........I think you are right!

Wow .............a bush fig flower.

Living Histories

Wow! the Living Histories project has finally got has been a long time (about 2 and a half years) in the development of this project...................................and I'm glad to say that things are going well. So without further ado here is a quick background on the project.

The project will employ two artists (lead artists) as cross cultural community development professionals and an indigenous cultural advisor (the creative team) to facilitate comprehensive consultation and participation with community members from the regional town of Serpentine in the design, development and making of the Serpentine Heritage and Culture Trail/public artworks. Project participation will be promoted to all Serpentine community members and in particular our local regional youth in an extensive series of free design, development and art making workshops over a 6 month period, commencing mid October 2010 with project completion planned mid March/April 2011. The workshops will be conducted at the Serpentine CWA Hall, Serpentine PCYC building, Serpentine Primary School and other locations as deemed appropriate.

The historical Serpentine cemetery will be utilised as the catalyst to underpin community connectedness with the project and to provide the foundation and starting point for a broader community focused enquiry into the Serpentine cultural identity. Community enquiry will be centred within a cross cultural context and explore the cultural and historical significance of the Serpentine cemetery and other locations throughout the Serpentine environs. The cemetery contains a number of very old indigenous and non indigenous grave sites; it has also been designated as "Bush Forever site 371" in recognition of its remnant vegetation and diverse indigenous flora.

The community workshops will generate the source material for the design and making of the public artworks, celebrating indigenous and non indigenous historical and cultural values. The artworks will be installed at each of the various identified sites and will include artist designed interpretive plaques incorporating Nyungar and English language.

An important aspect of the community workshops will be the exploration of identified sites and their place within the contemporary community conscience. The community workshops will explore and highlight the interconnectedness of cultural diversity within the community and its contribution to the development of the town of Serpentine. The oral histories of community members will be translated and integrated into celebratory community artworks.

A key emphasis of the Design Stage will be the determination by community members of the content to be incorporated into artworks and the type of artworks most suitable? Workshop participants will explore and determine how the identified elements of cultural and historical significance can be incorporated into artworks. Additionally, community members will determine how those artworks will function in an interpretive context and the appropriate locality for installation within the cemetery environment. The lead artists will facilitate community participation in the artmaking process and ensure skills exchange and enhancement is achieved in the making of final artworks.

Importantly, in regard to stories of Nyungar cultural significance, the lead artists will negotiate distribution guidelines with the particular community members to ensure correct cultural protocols and recognition is achieved.

Project community partnerships include:

  • Serpentine Historical Society,
  • Southwest Aboriginal Land and Sea Council,
  • Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale,
  • Serpentine PCYC,
  • Serpentine Primary School,

Project funding partners include:

  • Community Arts Network WA
  • LotteryWest
  • Regional Arts/Country Arts WA
  • West Australian Department of Culture and the Arts

The grant applicant body - Serpentine Historical Society.

Project lead artist - Robert Ewing.

Indigenous artist - Mrs Gloria Kearing.

Indigenous cultural advisor for the project - Mrs Karrie-Anne Kearing- Salmon

Project coordinator - Robert Ewing

The project steering committee includes:

  • Mrs Myra Baldwin – Serpentine resident and representative of the Serpentine Historical Society Inc,
  • Julie Sansom - Community Development representative - Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale,
  • Mark Warner - President, Serpentine PCYC,
  • Youth representative - Serpentine PCYC
  • Mr Athol Wigg - Serpentine resident and representative of the Serpentine Historical Society Inc,
  • Mrs Karrie-Anne Kearing- Salmon – Indigenous Cultural Advisor

Monday, January 11, 2010

Some images of the mural

The last weeks of the school year 2009

Kira painting

Nina painting

Beau painting

Curtis painting

Emma painting

Nina, Beau and Curtis painting

Alex painting

These are some images of students painting the mural as they prepare for the 2009 end of school year break. Since painting of the mural began I've been fortunate to have had the enthusiastic support of the Carcoola Primary school students. Throughout most mornings from 9:00am till around 11:30am groups of 4/5 students have been contributing their painting skills and ideas to the development of the mural. They have all been a fantastic, positive and highly creative group........well done!

Painting on Saturdays

Rhys, Jayden and Zac chillin out

Chad and Rhys take a break

Aleasha and Jayden painting

Since painting began on the mural, Saturday mornings has been promoted as an open session to all interested members of the community. Anyone who would like to paint and or contribute their ideas and suggestions on how the mural might progress has been encouraged. I'm pleased to say there has been a very enthusiastic group of local youth that have embraced this opportunity and played an important role in the unfolding of the mural. Their contribution has been significant, helping to shape the content and design of the mural.

The intention of the project has always been to allow the mural to evolve through the input of community members. Whilst the design stage of the project was important as determined through the extensive series of workshops conducted with Carcoola school students at the primary school and with community members at the Carcoola Community Hall. The outcomes of the design stage were never intended to be fixed as the exclusive content of the mural, but rather serve to provide a starting point from which painting could commence.

Throughout the painting process participants have been encouraged to comment on the development of the mural through questions such as:

What do you think we should paint there? What would be a good colour for this or that? Someone suggested ..........what do you think about that and what would you like to see in the mural?

The ideas as suggested by the participants have been incorporated where ever possible into the mural as it is being painted. The process of constant renewal of mural content has provided an interesting dynamic in that it has allowed the mural to develop and remain relevant to any participant at the time of their involvement.

It has also provided an excellent mechanism for ensuring community ownership in the mural is enhanced. Another interesting outcome of the process has been the inclusion of multiple themes and designs upon each panel of the concrete walls of the underpass.