Woorabinda Mosaic Community Art Project 2014
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Proud to be featured by Laticrete Spotlight Article! Hope you enjoy reading about this wonderful mosaic project at Woorabinda.
Project: Taroom Walk 1926/1927 Art to depict the Aboriginal Walk from Taroom to Woorabinda
Location: Woorabinda Aboriginal Community, Central Queensland Australia
Mosaic Design: Sandra Robertson (based on Woorabinda photographs, research and input from Aboriginal Council).
Duration: 20 days at Woorabinda
Participants: Local community (children, families, parents, locals and elderly) and OzMosaics
Mosaic Instructor: Sandra Robertson, Mosaic Artist, Studio OzMosaics Brisbane
Time Frame: 20 days Artist in Residence program at Woorabinda
OzMosaics Project Manager: Dave Robertson, Studio OzMosaics
Workspace: Kangaroo Stadium, Woorabinda
Murals - 10 mosaic murals - 5 for Taroom Walk, 2 Kangaroos, 1 snake and 2 flags
Substrate: Cement Sheeting Panels
Materials used in the mosaic panels:
-Laticrete Australia Cement, Grout, Epoxy Paste and Waterproof Membrane products
-Mosaic Tesserae: Supplied by Studio OzMosaics Mosaic Store:
Glass mosaic vitreous tiles, mOzMilli (glass mosaic beads, millefiori), Dynasty Smalti bricks and glass smalti sheets, OzMosaics glass fusings, ceramic tile, slate, mirror, gold and white gold smalti, Woorabinda red and white sand, pebbles, thinset, gloss sealer, gold/silver paint effects, china, coal, lustre and foil backed glass
Funding: Government Art Grant/Woorabinda Council
Dave and I arrived in Woorabinda after an 8 hour drive from our Brisbane OzMosaics Studio.
We met at the Woorabinda Council Chambers and met Doug and helpful Council staff who directed us to our lodgings for the next 20 days, the Woorabinda Guest House.
After meeting Desma, the Guest House caretaker (and very talented Aboriginal artist), we quickly unpacked our personal belongings, explored the facilities and then hopped back into the 4WD to find the Kangaroo Stadium. The Kangaroo Stadium is awesome, a very well designed sports hall, with every facility on hand to make the mosaics. A wonderful artwork adorns the building, big metal Kangaroos! A local Aboriginal artist also painted a fantastic Kangaroo on the outer Stadium walls, with art inserted by the children. Very impressive. I was told Woorabinda means "Kangaroo Sit Down". Woori = Kangaroo Binda = Sit Down.
Doug walked over and helped us unpack the very heavily loaded trailer of mosaic supplies and the 4WD was also full of supplies. We needed a lot as we intended to make 10 mosaic murals in 20 days and teach how to mosaic at the same time. A big task but we were excited and looking forward to meeting the kids, elders, families and community at large.
Woorabinda has the wonderful red sand and I can't get enough of it! Blue skies, red earth incredible gum trees and a lovely local creek with an amazing Red Bank. We can't wait to go back to Woori and explore, we simply didn't get much time off as we worked 20 days non-top but we enjoyed every minute of it.
We unpacked all the mosaic supplies, Dave settled into the office area so we could keep in touch by computer with family and keep our OzMosaics business on line whilst we were away. We have great connection on the computer using the Dongle and having a kitchen mean copious amounts of cuppas to keep Dave, Fiona and I warm and watered!
The first few days, Dave and I met dozens of local kids who wandered into the Kanga Stadium, all with my favourite phrase "What are you doing Miss?" We learned the motto "Be Deadly" and it was appropriate. Work hard, set goals, achieve them!
I soon had the kids undertaking the huge job of soaking of the glass mosaic tiles from brown paper backing, sorting thousands of millifiori glass mosaic beads and whilst we were setting all the tables and panels for their mosaics, the kids made mosaic patterns in the mosaic grids. They also drew on paper with crayons I had brought with me and it was a really arty time all round. The kids were really quick to learn and had so many questions.
I miss them so much now we are back home in Brisbane.
The Council guys drove around in the big truck to delivery the large panels of cement sheeting, which Dave reshaped into my desired sizes and proceeded on the Friday to coat with Laticrete Hydroban waterproof membrane. The kids watched and chatted away with Dave outside the building as he prepared thebase boards on all edges and sides. The Council were very helpful and also delivered lots of tables and chairs, which really were needed for 10 murals.
5 large panels measuring 1.5 x 1.2m each were set aside for the Mural to depict the Taroom Walk into early Woorabinda in 1927.
Another 5 panels were set aside for two Kangaroos, one snake and the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag mosaic murals.
The kids and elderly from the Nursing home with help from everyone else would make the Kangaroo, Snake and Flag murals to learn and participate.
The main 5 murals for the Taroom Walk would be made by Fiona, Sandy and adults, with kids cutting thousands of tiles, shaping into circles, rectangles and whatever we needed for the murals, especially, the Gum trees, sky and ground tesserae.
We met Fiona on the Monday and she was assigned to us to help every day and work on the mural. Fiona was such a great help, co-ordinating what we needed, introducing us to the Council carpenters, who would assist in the mural installations etc. She also learnt to mosaic, every spare minute available as has natural mosaic talent! She learnt so quickly and I taught her as much as I could in the time we had together. She and I are now mosaic friends forever and I truly appreciated Fiona whilst working on the mosaics and our wonderful chats together. Thanks Fiona!
Thanks to so many people who came in and out of the stadium, especially the local nurses who even went out of their way to purchase me some Cold tablets in Rockhampton. It was very cold in the mornings and evenings in Woori and I caught a head cold which lasted a few days. I loved the brisk, cold weather and the sunny and bright blue skies made up for the chills sometimes.
As word got out, we had more and more children and community visiting and adding pieces to the mosaic. I was very privileged to listen to many stories of the hardship of the early Woorabinda pioneers and quite a few tears were shed by us all. Thank you for trusting me and welcoming me into your town and community.
The Kangaroos soon started to emerge from the mosaics and the snake was made by some lovely kids and families plus some of the old folk from the nursing home. That was a really special mosaic Sunday.
It was school holidays and the kids certainly enjoy their music in Woori. We enjoyed working on the mosaic panels with thumping, loud music. It provided another energy to the mosaic space.
We enjoyed all the crows and their fun antics too. The local horses roamed the streets and it was great to see the local children riding the h horses bareback with such confidence and grace. At the Guest House there was a white horse that often appeared in the moonlight, which was rather wonderful.
We arrived at the mosaic workplace each morning approx 7 - 7.30am and worked until 7.30 - 8pm most nights. The new local Cafe serves up great food and an early cuppa coffee was often on the agenda. Great hamburgers too.
As we all worked away to get the 10 panels finished in a mosaic record time (!!) the Council workers were hard on the job turning the dusty Memorial Wall and Park. What a transformation! Lawn, new metal Rotunda (complete with metal kangaroo on top), new seats, incredible timber fencing, sprinklers, water basin, wall painted up ready for the mosaics, garden makeovers and lean-to and gunyahs on display!
Dave was amazed at how the project was done so professionally in such a short time (approx 1 week!). We were excited as the mosaic murals depicting the Taroom Walk and the flags, kangaroo and snake mosaics would add special artworks and meaning to this Park in the central area of Woorabinda.
Finally the day came to install the 10 panels. Dave enjoyed working with the carpenters installing the panels. It was heavy work, lots of drilling into the cement walls but it was done with expertise and I think a lot of care thrown in as the mosaics were so meaningful to everyone.
Some of the elders visited me whilst I was on my own putting last minute touches to the mosaic murals and invited me to walk the last 6km on the Wednesday as the walkers entered into Woorabinda. I was very touched by the invitation and I joined in and met so many more beautiful people. I listened to the stories of the past, heard their very moving words at the start of the walk, where t-shirts were handed out to all the walkers, starting with the elders and moving down to the children.
You could feel the pride, the sorrow of the past, the determination for the future and talk of healing ongoing and working together for a brighter future was every inspirational and very moving.
I hadn't walked 6km for quite a while and one beautiful lady, Roberta, whose grandmother was one of the first women to arrive in Woorabinda and gave birth to her mother on the very first day, after the huge walk from Taroom (!!!!) made me realise what a long walk it must have been, under very harsh conditions. Roberta has a great sense of humour and her grandmother and mother would have been so proud of her!
Dave and I were so thrilled to received some very special hand carved gifts and a Gumby Gumby tree to bring home. Read about the healing properties of the Gumby Gumby tree online. Amazing!
Huge thanks must to to MerleO'Donnell who was my contact for over 12 months, planning the mural, helping with with design input from the Council and elders and helping arrange the huge project. Thank you Merle. Thanks to Elizabeth Cuthbert who introduced me as a possible artist in residence for this project. We have become good friends in the process and thanks Liz for everything you did for Dave and I along the way.
Thanks for everything Woorabinda! Dave and I look forward to returning soon to meet you all again and hopefully some more community mosaics to adorn all the walls at Woori!
I took thousands of photographs at Woori over the 20 days and I welcome anyone reading this mosaic review, to visit my Facebook Page or friend me to view the photos fo the mural in progress and the Taroom Walk 2014. Visit the albums and enjoy watching the community make the mosaics, the Taroom Walkers and much more.
Thanks for the most enjoyable mosaic experience and project!
New friends, new experiences, stunning mosaics. Especial thanks to my mother for her support, my mosaic friends Shirley Whitton and Jan Abbots for your contributions to he mosaic prior to the project start.
My husband and mosaic partner David Robertson, you are the "mosaic man" and I can never thank you enough for all that you do, behind the mosaic scenes, the planning, the preparation of the panels, the huge packing job, sourcing the materials, keeping us in contact at home, running the mosaic business, the enormous grouting effort, the driving up and back from Woori, the meals..constant support, the quiet achiever; you make my mosaic dreams come alive and everything possible.
Thanks again everyone at Woorabinda! You should be proud of your efforts. See you again soon!
Here are the links:
OzMosaics Page on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/OzMosaics
Sandy Robertston on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandy.robertson.australia
link to Taroom Walk 2014 http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-10/indigenous-youngsters-retrace-the-steps-of-their-ancestors/5586440
Here are a few photos from the thousands on Facebook: