Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Cemetery Wall

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.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Kingfisher Skate Park art project

Kingfisher Skate Park art project - 2011
Members of the Nth Yunderup Community Association and project participants.

The project was completed over a three week period in 2011, from 10th till 29th January.

Week One and Two: involved an extensive series of workshops conducted at the local CWA Hall situated on Culeenup Road, Nth Yunderup.  The CWA Hall provided an easy access and ideal venue for the design and art panel painting workshops.  The workshops were open to all interested youth ranging in age from 8 to 23 years and all materials were supplied at no cost.
Initially, all participants were introduced to the intent of the project and encouraged to develop an image that was an expression of their own style.  However there were two stipulations:
1) Keep it positive,
2) No advertising images! or logos!…………………..the rest was left up to the individual artists.
These design parameters allowed for enormous flexibility and scope in the development of imagery.  Additionally, each artist was required to follow a design - art making pathway based upon the completion of three distinct stages, with each subsequent stage relying upon the completion of the preceding.
Workshop participants

The design process incorporated three stages, firstly, each artist was encouraged to develop an A4 pencil image.  Secondly, the participants were required to introduce colour, with the final design stage involving the up scaling of their image to A2 size on high quality drawing paper.  All participants were encouraged to explore a variety of materials including, graphite pencils of various grades, Derwent Designer coloured pencils and Conte Pastels.  This important stage enabled the artists to expand the detail and nuance of their design in preparation for the transfer of their image onto an art panel, slightly larger that A2 at 600mm X 900mm.

With the completion of each stage, the  artists became one step closer to completing their art panels. There was no onus upon participants to attend all sessions, however it was explained to all that they would need to allow enough time to complete each stage.
Zac Cassidy working on an amazing art piece.

At the commencement of the art panel painting participants were introduced to a variety of art materials including traditional artist grade acrylic paints, modern street art sprays and a selection of permanent markers.  Due to the high number of participants, two art panels were shared, this provided an opportunity for family members to work closely together in the process of reconciling the combination of their images.  18 art panels were completed, treated with an anti graffiti coating and fixed to the upper section of the Kingfisher Skate Park recreational area perimeter cyclone fencing.  The art panels now form a permanent outdoor gallery within the recreational area, serving as an exciting display of the creative talents of local youth.

Throughout the two week period on-going consultation with participants was sought in an effort to develop the content for a mural to be painted in-situ upon the exterior walls of the public toilet block adjacent to the Kingfisher Skate Park Recreational area.
Design and art panel painting workshop image

Week Three: involved the painting of a mural on the Kingfisher Park toilet block.  Importantly, throughout the design and art panel painting workshops all participants were informed that the painting of the mural would involve the use of Belton Premium Sprays and high quality Solver Brite - Glo sign paints.  The use of these materials provided a useful tool in capturing participant interest with a couple of older youth  being  keen to produce a major piece of urban art upon the walls of the toilet block.

One participant in particular was very keen to be involved in the project and at 23 years of age was the oldest.  However the younger youth proved to be equally if not more dedicated to be involved in all aspects of the project and brought with them a wonderful sense of excitement and enthusiasm. 

The North and Western aspects of the mural

The resulting mural consisted of a river theme with local flora and fauna, including Gum leaves and nuts, a Gecko, Blue manner crab, Black Bream, Dolphin, Great Egret and Wood Ducks.  The main south wall of the toilet block facing the Skate Park and recreational area included the wording Kingfisher Skate Park and an image of a Kingfisher.  The wall was predominately painted by two youth, one having the task of painting the text, with the other completing the Kingfisher image.  The wall was regarded by all as the major aspect of the mural and “THE” prime place for some urban art.

Finally, the entire exterior wall surface of the toilet block was treated with 2 coats of non sacrificial anti-graffiti coating.  

Ben working on the script for the mural


Proud mum Kerry Beard taking photos of local youth involved in the project including Rick and Shari Beard.

The south facing aspect of the mural.

The project successfully expressed local culture and identity.  The area is predominately used by youth, and provides a selection of recreational opportunities, including the use of skateboarding ramps, basketball courts and BMX track.  An urban artwork in a spray paint style was determined by participants to be the most appropriate way of highlighting local youth identity.

Whilst an urban artwork featured predominately as the collective style of choice it did little to express individual artistic style and aspiration.  The intention to consolidate youth ownership and pride in the space required a more individual and personal approach.  This objective was achieved through the design and painting of art panels.  The art panels provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the creative talents of project participants.  18 art panels were painted by local youth, or by those that had a close connection to the area, in their personal style and expressive of what they felt was important about living in Nth Yunderup.

The completed art panels have been coated with non sacrificial anti graffiti coating and permanently fixed to the perimeter cyclone fencing of the skate park recreation area.
Additionally, all participants were asked to consider the unique qualities of Nth Yunderup and how those qualities could be best expressed in  a mural.  Considerable feedback was received throughout the workshop process and incorporated as content into the mural.  Approximately 7 youth helped to paint various aspects of the mural and displayed an exceptional degree of commitment to participating in all aspects of the project.

Shari painting her art board

The project successfully supported the values of respect and creativity and is best summed up by the youth themselves when they referred to the skate park area as………."this is our park now"……………….The statement clearly demonstrates the respect and sense of ownership local youth and in particular the project participants have for the Kingfisher Skate Park recreational area.

Creativity, has been resoundingly demonstrated through the permanent display of the 18 art  board and the completion of the toilet block mural.

We set out to provide an opportunity for all interested youth to be involved in the project, regardless of artistic talent or cultural background.  The only requirement was that they embrace the intent of the project and contribute their thoughts, ideas, suggestions and participate in the artmaking processThe project exceeded our aims in achieving local youth ownership, pride and respect for the Kingfisher Skate Park recreation area.

Rick working on his art board

The design and painting of art panels proved to be an excellent for empowering local youth and for showcasing their individual creative talents. 

The painted mural is an exciting splash of colour, the theme and content serves to accentuate some of the natural flora and fauna and environmental aspects that are valued by the community.  It is successful in that the theme, content and painting was achieved with local community participation.

Shae painting the mural

There were no unexpected issues encountered throughout the duration of the project and the outcomes successfully highlight the contribution youth participation can make in the expression of community values.

My capacity within the project was primarily facilitator of community participation and as an artist I provided material and technical assistance to all participants throughout the duration of the project. 

Design and art panel painting workshop image

Local youth from the Nth Yunderup community were the main participants in the project, however there were a small number of youth from other localities that did participate.  Whilst the project had an emphasis to foster local youth involvement, all youth that expressed interest in being involved were encouraged to participate.

Some youth participated in all aspects of the project, others participated in fewer aspects.  In consideration of the festive period in which the project was conducted, it is quite amazing that 23 youth attended the design and art panel painting workshops at one time.  Because of the workshop schedule it was not necessary for participants to attend all sessions.  However, no less than 7 youth were in attendance at any one time during the workshop period including the Saturday morning sessions.
Art panel painting workshop image
I was assisted by Nth Yunderup Community Association President Penny Hoffman in the coordination of the project and whilst I provided the artistic and cultural development skills throughout the project, it is to be noted that local youth were responsible for the design and painting of their art boards.  Additionally, local youth participants were responsible for determining the theme and content for the mural.  Importantly, project participants were also responsible for painting the main aspects of the mural.

The project was promoted through:

  • The use of local newspaper articles,
  •  An outline of the project and workshop schedule was included in the Nth Yunderup newsletter posted to all association membership,
  • A letterbox drop was made to all residents prior to the commencement of the project,
  • Project flyers were displayed at the local deli and school bus stops.
Kyle and Jack working on their designs
The scope of local youth participation was deemed to be the benchmark factor in determining  the success of the project.   Throughout the workshop aspect of the project an informal process of evaluation was utilised, whereby participants were asked their views on the project, what we hoped to achieve and their enthusiasm for participation.

The result has been a great success with capacity workshops and a solid number of participants benefiting through their involvement in all aspects of the project.  The success of the project is self evident in the number of art panels produced and by the completed mural.  Throughout the mural design and painting youth were asked questions like,…………. what do you think we should include? we need anything else here?……..what about there, what do you reckon we should put in it?   

This provided an opportunity for all participants to engage in an ongoing dialogue and contribute to the content and in-situ painting of the mural.

Local youth demonstrated their enthusiasm for the project  through their participation, commitment and pride in the outcomes achieved. 

Joel proudly showing his artwork…… The amazing Kingfisher

Rick, Chad and Shae…………….. “This is our park now”……………..

The project successfully achieved the short term goal of engaging local youth.  In the long term the mural and outdoor display of the art panels will remain as an exciting, colourful and positive reminder of the creative role we have to play in the expression of our community.

Here are some more images: