The Gympie region’s biggest public art project was undertaken to create a series of community-made mosaics for the new playground.
Twenty-four school and community groups took park in the Lake Alford All Abilities Playground Art Project – combining to create approximately 15,000 clay tiles, weighing approximately five tonnes.
The tiles were designed and created during a series of workshops conducted by artist and project coordinator Stephaine Outridge-Field, together with mentored local artists, from September 2009 to March 2010.
Made possible by a $50,000 grant from Arts Queensland's art+place public art fund, the tile artworks were to be set into pathways and other suitable surfacing.
As Stephanie explained: "The unique tile artworks [were] dotted purposefully throughout the space, helping to tell the stories of each group and this community, and creating real sense of discovery at the same time”.
The themes of each mosaic installation were as unique and diverse as the groups themselves. Many groups drew inspiration from their localities, special interests and mottos, with some also incorporating key words such as care, community, respect, friendship, sharing, acceptance and togetherness.
For parents and children from the region’s MyTime program – a support network for parents of children with a disability – stenciling members’ feet formed a key part of the tile-making process for their installation themed ‘Growth’ and ‘Moving forward’.
"I think it’s a wonderful project," said MyTime member Marnelle Jones, from East Deep Creek. "For all those who participated, it’s just so rewarding."
Fellow MyTime member and Cooloola Cove resident Lee-Anne Murphy, who has two sons with a disability, added: "It’s terrific for children to know that their feet artwork will be on display for such a long period of time. Children can match their feet, see their names on the tiles and find their favourite colour. It’s very exciting."
Mentored artists included: Eleanor Robinson, Gail Godwin, Michelle Gibbes, Ron Fleming, Sally Spencer and Sam Keane.
An exhibition of work, titled Community + Art = Place, was held at the Gympie Regional Gallery from 16 March to 3 April 2010.
Participating groups included:
- Access Advisory Committee (Gympie region) – themes 'Community' and 'People coming together'
- Australian Breastfeeding Association
- Avenues Lifestyle Support Association
- Bravo Disability Support Network
- Cooloola Christian College
- Cooloola Family Day Care
- Cooloola Youth Service
- Early Years Family Hub – theme ‘People walking together, building community’
- FOGlets (Friends of the Gallery little ones)
- Future Arts
- Goomeri State School
- Gympie Special School – theme ‘Moving Forward, Learning Together’ (school motto)
- MyTime program (Gympie region) – themes ‘Growth’ and ‘Moving Forward’
- Gunalda State School
- Jobmatch Employment Agency
- Mary Valley State College
- Monkland State School
- One Mile Sports Association
- Special Olympics Gympie
- Tin Can Bay State School
- Theebine State School
- Wolvi State School.