Image shows southern aspect of the Niche Wall with daylight visible through a crack from top to bottom.
Since the last update, I’ve made two presentations to the Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire. Firstly to the Serpentine Cemetery Committee at which time I outlined the visual and structural condition of the Niche Wall. The presentation to the Serpentine Cemetery committee was very successful. A large part of the discussions centred upon the condition of the Niche Wall (both North and South facets). The following photos depict 2 major cracks in the wall, daylight is clearly visible through the crack located on the eastern section of the wall.
Northern Aspect of same wall section
Cracked from top to bottom
The crack located on the western section of the wall has had some rudimentary repair.
Efflorescence is very visible and pervasive over the entire wall surface, it could be cleaned with minimum cost. The wall surface would however need to be sealed to reduce the likelihood of the problem returning and this would also add to the general appeal of the wall.
The need to define an entrance pathway into the cemetery was also discussed, the following photos show the informal nature of multiple trodden pathways through the remnant vegetation directly adjacent to the southern aspect of the Niche Wall.
Looking South through the gate
Above photo depicts the main informal path.
Other paths to the left and right of the photo show that pedestrian traffic through the area of remnant vegetation is ad hoc at best and if let to continue will result in significant damage to the vegetated area. Options for formalising a single pathway suitable for disability access and establishing some protection of the remnant vegetation that is being adversely impacted by pedestrian traffic was also discussed. Fencing options were also considered as a means of containing the spread of bush mulch adjacent to the Niche Wall.
Vanessa Slater, Natural Reserves Coordinator, Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire is very supportive and acknowledged the need for urgency in finding solutions to these concerns. Secondly, a similar presentation was made to the Shire Council and their endorsement was sought for the commencement of repair work to the Niche Wall. Unfortunately, there were insufficient councillors present resulting in the need for a business case to be presented by Vanessa. I’ll assist Vanessa with a list of repair items to be carried out and a maintenance schedule for the installed artworks within the cemetery environs. My understanding is that due process will be followed and that repair work will commence albeit at a later date. Vanessa is progressing these issues through the appropriate SJ Shire channels to have the wall repaired and rejuvenated. Once this has been achieved the wall will be suitable for the installation of artworks.
Artwork concepts were also presented and elaborated upon and I’m pleased to say the artwork concepts have been endorsed by the Cemetery committee, Serpentine Historical Society and project steering committee.
The overwhelming consensus of community members stated “Pre and Post Settlement” as the preferred theme, with the central Niche Wall gateway being the delineating point. Pre Settlement to the East and Post Settlement to the West. Text was also considered an important element to be incorporated into the artworks. The preferred source of text was identified as local poetry and prose, together with carefully selected phrases from the gravestones within the cemetery. The text is to be carefully integrated into floral artworks and placed on either side of the Niche Wall gateway entrance. There was much discussion on the design of metal crosses and how they might be fixed flush to the wall within the small passageway of the gateway entry area. The installed artworks will need to be intimate and remain discreet in appearance.
The North facing aspect of the Niche Wall was regarded as the ideal place for the installation of artworks. Robust, durable and minimal maintenance are regarded as essential with Corten Steel being the preferred material due to its Patina colouring, strength and durability. The artworks are to be fixed flush with the wall to ensure minimal maintenance is required.
Over 100 ceramic hand painted tiles were produced by community members. The hand painted tiles are to be incorporated into the Eastern and Western ends of the South facing area of the Niche Wall. Additionally, there is potential to incorporate the tiles into existing sites including interpretive plaques within the town environs.
Images in keeping with the theme and of a realistic quality were the preferred content. Pre Settlement content to include images of Natural Flora and Fauna with specific emphasis upon species found in the locality of the Cemetery. Identified species included, Blue Leschenaultia, Flowering Red Gums, Red and White Tailed Black Cockatoos and Bob Tailed Goannas. There was strong support for the inclusion of a natural scene depicting the fresh water pools of the the Serpentine Falls. Post Settlement content to include images of introduced flora and fauna including the Rose and farming animals with specific emphasis upon the Dairy Cow, Horse and beef cattle. There was strong support for the inclusion of a farming scene depicting early buildings, citrus orchards, dairy farming and timber cutting (pit saw scene). I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Midge Richardson and was shown early images of local pit sawing activity, told of pit locations along the Serpentine that can still be found today and shown an incredible selection of early farming tools and equipment including several pit saw blades.
Subtle contemporary Nyungar designs will be carefully incorporated into certain elements, adding a refined sensibility, nuance and appeal to the artwork.
There is overwhelming community support for secondary artworks within the cemetery grounds as a means of consolidating the initial appeal of the cemetery entrance and helping to maintain the respectful and sacred nature of the locality. This included the placement of two vertical Gothic arched screens, depicting the image of angels. The preferred appearance is that they be made of the same material as the Niche Wall artworks and evoke a wrought Iron quality.
Those councillors present whole heartedly endorsed the artwork concept and were very supportive in finding pathways to allow the project to be fully realised. An artwork concept presentation was made to members of the Serpentine Historical Society on Monday evening 7th of March, with all members giving their full support for the artwork concept. Detailed artwork drawings will now be developed and presented to the Serpentine Historical Society on the Monday 4th April. Following approval by the Society the drawings will be forwarded to Project Steering Committee members and Serpentine Shire Council.
The moment we have the OK, artmaking will commence.