ART FROM THE EXTENDED REGION
BLACK SATURDAY MEMORIAL
The Arts Victoria report, THE ROLE OF THE ARTS IN REBUILDING COMMUNITY
features this project. Editors - Natalie Fisher and Annie Talve. Click here.
A mosaic mural dedicated to the Black Saturday fires in the Central Victorian
localities north of Kyneton commemorates the many homes and a church
lost on that tragic day, together with the enormous support that followed.
A richly mosaiced fire front landscape scene sets the theme with
surrounding black tiles inlayed with fire burned materials. The
neighbours, friends and wider community tiles transition from
dark colours to lighter depending on their proximity to the event.
TO FIND A PARTICULAR TILE, PLEASE SEE BELOW
On the 7th of February, 2009, local CFA members, Micheal Portelli,
(the husband of the artist) Paul Dettmann and Anne Buckley were
captured by photographer Chris Fleming in a desperate attempt to
save the centuries old magnificent native roadside specimens,
a prominent part of our beautiful rural and farming landscape.
Newspaper pictures by Chris Fleming, on the scene during the Black Saturday fires in Baynton.
As they emptied their load of precious water, drawn from nearby
neighbours' dams, a siren blared to warn there was only a small
amount left which is required as the umbrella spray to protect their
lives in the vehicle, if the fire turned suddenly. AND IT DID!
All the volunteer firefighters battled their infernos on constant
alert, making fast decisions in extreme conditions, against a
furious force of nature with a mind of its own and a ferocious
appetite for destruction. They did this because they love their
rural landscape and are giving community-spirited individuals.
With the massive event affecting so many in such a wide area
across Victoria, many artists rallied to contribute their skills in an
effort to facilitate community connectedness and offer the public
the opportunity to create memorials to aid in the healing process,
both for the deeply affected locals and regional visitors later on.
Such strong support for the proposal has resulted in community
partnerships being developed that will testify to the ability of
people to join forces in a colourful artistic display of solidarity,
deep reflection, respect and heartfelt gratitude to the CFA.
Partners in the project were -
Macedon Ranges Shire Council - who have offered the sidewall of
the Kyneton Town Hall for the site, and any ongoing maintenance.
The mural has been designed to be sympathetic to the heritage
value of the red brick work and the project's grid layout echoes the
glass block windows above it. This important building was both a
refuge during the event and relief centre for residents afterwards.
Publicity and promotion was donated and carried out by the MRS
council, as well as collaboration in the planning of the time frame
concerning the stages of the project. Their cultural development
manager also organised the commemorative unveiling on the
first anniversary, Sunday, 7th February 2010. Involving the
broader community in a reverent ceremony, it acknowledged the
efforts of the CFA, and the strength, resilence and determination
of families, friends and neighbours in rebuilding their rural lives.
The 300 strong crowd bowed their heads in a minute's silence
at noon, after the speeches and the unveiling of the dramatic art.
Helen Macpherson Smith Trust - A philanthropic group who have
established a fund especially supportive of bushfire related
projects within the state of Victoria. As the major supporter, they
are acknowledged in the dedication tile at the end of the mural.
Regional Arts Victoria - The major funding body for rural artists,
with a specific bushfire grant available for professionals who are
coordinating community projects. The project was shared with
the public via their bushfire specific website 'Storyboard'.
Cobaw Community Health (Kyneton) - acted as auspice body
for philanthropic funding, the place of contact for public donations
of china and the link to the residents who were fire affected,
through their especially employed compassionate case managers.
Mosaic Group Volunteers - 45 wonderful individuals, some were
members of two local mosaic groups offered their time, creativity
and skill filling 180 gumleaf tiles between them all. China donated
by the sympathetic public and burned crockery or distorted glass
remains contributed by the landholders, was cut and inlaid into
the colourful tiles. Every tile was unique and contained a story.
Redesdale Recovery and Wellbeing Group - A strongly bonded
collective of professionals and volunteers combined their efforts
to ensure that the recovery needs were met in the short term, and
they supported the project for its ability to unite the community.
Kyneton Bushland Resort - situated just out of Kyneton to the
north and were evacuated on the day. Anne Buckley is one of their
employees, and their prominence in the community was linked by
using their gumleaf logo, cut into all the tiles to unify the design.
Smalti Australia - The vibrant glass mosaic material featured in
the evocative fire front landscape scene was supplied at a
discounted rate thanks to the generosity of owner David Lacey.
The dedicated mosaic volunteers were busy setting distorted
materials from their neighbours into black and dark grey tiles
during the months of June and July '09. Participants wishing to be
involved contributed their sentimental articles in to collection
points around the region, filling out forms with their names and
property details and information relevant to their special choices.
Every individual tile encapsulates a personal story there for all to share....
The ceramic unicorn The molten remains The daughter's doll,
made in the studio of the utility vehicle her first little pot and
that burned. aluminium tray. grandma's fine china.
Old door glass, old The cat cup bought Crockery from the
bathroom tiles and overseas that now church cabinet that
glass from around reminds them of the burned in the second
a mirror. treasured pet they lost. fire of its life.
A Keepsake Tile was made at the same time for the fire affected
residents, gifted to them by State Government Memorial funding.
Old glass bottles and china Special gift cups from the
from the mill pit and the Bathroom tiles in the box friends in England saved
woodcutters' campsite. awaiting the renovation. for years after cracking.
The trinket from Uruguay Beer bottles from the family's The richly hand painted,
and the husband's name. weekend bonfire spot. vividly decorated jug.
Some Keepsake Tiles featured material that could not be included
in the outdoor AFTER mural due to rusting, warping or shrinkage.
The jar of carpenter's screws Fused coins Badges and cuff links
On June 27th, a huge bonfire was held in the Barfold area as a
community get together. In an effort to tidy up the damaged
trees, a massive pile had been bulldozed into a paddock, and now
being winter, was lit as a warming focal point in a community
gathering event, drawing in families, neighbours and friends.
Material for the landscape fire scene was seeded into the pile.
More sheets of coloured glass and crockery articles were added.
During cooling rain, the ashes were searched for molten treasures.
And now the firefront scene could include mosaic material infused
with the positive healing spirit of that bonding community event.
Molten material was washed, sorted into colours and the painting
of the firefront landscape scene was covered in protective contact.
Blobs were positioned to their best advantage with areas around
them filled with individual distorted pieces creating great texture.
Black tiles positioned next to the firescene in the mural included
material that was distorted in the Barfold community bonfire,
helping the visual story transition from the bright coloured art
glass in the firescene to the bright coloured china in the hundreds
of public tiles, linking focal point to the very important narrative.
White word tiles conveyed the objective of the entire memorial.
Vibrant red and gold mirror Emotional faces surround The daffodil A in front of a
glass reflects the light in the yinyang letters making bluestone wall, a feature
the FIRE word tiles. the binds and burns words. of the region.
Colourful images in the c o m m u n i t y tiles represent some particular interests and groups
C - children O - animals M - sports
M - musicians U - gardeners N - indigenous
I - glitz T - religions Y - sweet things in life
A newspaper article on August 14th described the very important
Redesdale Planning Day in which Christine Nixon, Head of the
Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, (VBRRA) spoke to
the capacity crowd, launching the invitation to the public to
participate in the mural by contributing sentimental china articles.
On display were many fire affected tiles, their duplicate Keepsake
Tiles, coloured communty tiles and the intriguing white letter tiles.
The public now had the opportunity to be included by donating
patterned china to be set into hundreds of dark, medium and light
coloured tiles to make up the rest of the mural. The colour chosen
depended upon proximity of their homes to the fires in our area.
Christine Nixon, being a mosaicist herself, and having taken an
interest in our project enjoyed the technique invented to hold
the three dimensional objects within the 6mm cavity in the tile.
The volunteer mosaic team swelled in number, operating out of
two studios, setting a diverse range of sentimental features
into many coloured tiles to create individually personal stories.
Dark tiles represent close neighbours, mid colours are those living
in the shire region and light colours are from people further afield.
A display of the various styles of these uniquely captivating dark
and light coloured tiles was set up in the Macedon Ranges Shire
Council office windows in Kyneton to increase public awareness.
Flikr images by Smitten Kittan, an interested uni student are here.
During a Mosaic Association of Australia and New Zealand (MAANZ)
workshop in September, thirteen members created their own tiles
from a vibrant collection of sentimental and handmade materials.
MAANZ members in Queensland were very keen to show their
support for our project by using glass cutting and kiln firing skills.
A temporary tile was sent to them as a template to help with the
cutting of the green glass shape, and the insert is now set into a
pale tile representing these caring folks, 1680 kilometres away!!!
The 'result'ing tile is so deeply thoughtful that it takes pride of
place next to the dedication tiles at the end of the mural, where
the public are able to read all their beautiful messages of hope.
The 11.8m mural was laid out on the grass so that any adjustments
in colour transition could be made, as the final public tiles were
being completed over the months of November and December '09.
One whole row was dedicated to fire affected residents from many
other regions across Victoria, including Marysville, Kinglake,
Callignee, Churchill, Bendigo, Elphinstone, Woodend, Strath Creek,
Horsham, Beechworth, Coleraine, Koornalla and Kilmore East.
Aluminium and coins Molten white glass cup Marysville crockery
Partner's cup who died The remains of the car Ash Wednesday tiles from
in the Churchill fire now a molten ingot the '83 fire on Mt Macedon
Tile embedded in glass Caz's Callignee butterfly Blue and red distorted glass
The contributions have been offered by residents themselves, or by
family members who live in our area arranging for their collection.
The distorted finds not only connect the family members by theme,
but there is a worthwhile feeling of putting the finds to good use.
In the real spirit of Art From The Extended Region, tiles have been
The mural is now there permanently for visitors to reflect on the stories within.
made to represent participants' connections to all the states in
Australia, as well as interest from concerned people overseas.
A preview was arranged for Christine Nixon to receive her blue
VBBRA tile and to see close up the configuration of the final
layout. She wrote beautiful dedication words that were fired to
tile and positioned at the end, next to all the participants' names.
Introduction words were positioned at the beginning of the mural.
The preview was also a lovely opportunity for Jean, the most
dedicated hard-working volunteer, to revisit her 63 creations.
The stainless steel frame was fabricated locally in sections and
and the installation team included Master Builder John Winter and
his assistants Neil and Doug. A local engineer, Richard Fooks, was
engaged by council to ensure high quality standards were met.
Local professional tilers David Luck and his father Bob followed on
with careful handling of the precious tiles, marvelling at the variety
of unusual contents. They buttered every tile and worked in rows.
The artist's kids helped ferry the tiles which reduced laying time.
As the firescene was premade in slabs, it was able to be adhered
like a jigsaw puzzle and lifted on boards to the screed bed of glue.
The unveiling of the mosaic mural coincided with the first
anniversary of the Black Saturday fires and was well attended.
Kathryn's speech described the meaning of areas of the mural
and how parts of it were created, as well as thanking volunteers.
Mayor Of Macedon Ranges Volunteers Maureen, Carole, Val Tiler David and Jean behind
The slow reveal by artist and CEO of Cobaw Community Health, Alan Taylor
The crowd enjoyed the tactile qualities and the diversity of materials
Sunday 7th February 2010
Kyneton Town Hall, Hutton St, Kyneton, Central Victoria.
Story Picture Chris Fleming
Story Picture Matthew Furneaux
Barfold Hall Memorial
Christine Nixon APM, Chair of the Victorian Reconstruction and Recovery
Authority (VBBRA) was in our area again to unveil a memorial at the
Barfold Hall on the 30th of March, 2010. The framed mosaic memorial
features donated fire affected articles from close neighbours set into black
and grey tiles. A descriptive central tile details other major fires in the
past that have threatened this lovely old hall. An impressive aerial photo
by Craig Robinson, taken in his father's light plane the morning after
Black Saturday depicts just how close the building came to ending its days.
Nine dramatic tiles capture the memories of a tragic day, with textural details
that remind one of the furious power of nature and how we are affected by it.
Bendigo Advertiser article
Black Saturday 5th anniversary photo display
Regional Development Victoria captured images of my mural in Kyneton to be shown with
all the other dedicated memorials at Melbourne Museum on Sunday 9th February 2014.
Images - Regional Development Victoria
Report available here
Arts Recovery Forum - RAV - July 2015
Regional Arts Victoria hosted an informative two day conference in Kilmore featuring Arts
Recovery experts and three memorials created as a result of the 2009 bushfires.