By DANIELLE MARKS
GAGEBROOK Primary School, local volunteers and community members in partnership with Red Cross banded together recently to restore the school’s Aboriginal wall to its original state. The project, as part of national Reconciliation Week, was undertaken to save the wall from further disrepair, and with respect to the Aboriginal knowledge, history and Aboriginal elders. The mural was painted by artist Tina Burton 18 years ago.
Despite the extreme weather conditions the team was able to complete the project, with thanks to the hot drinks and warm welcoming of Gagebrook Primary School each day, warm gloves provided by Red Cross, and the determination from the volunteers to restore the wall.
Sadly, the wall was vandalised half way through the project. However, the courageous groundsman from the school scrubbed the wall in torrential rain to save it. The community response was also swift, quickly denouncing the vandalism and reaffirming their pride about what we were able to achieve together to save the original artwork.
There have been many special stories over the time worked together to restore the artwork; from the young man who was proud to see the graffiti on the wall gone from his school and telling us he was going to grow into a good man, to community who drove by the school especially to see the work.
Most importantly was the community’s connection to the wall from the past to the present, and the children of the original artists who themselves were children when it was first completed 18 years ago and now coming together to make new additions. We will also have the current generation of children at the school to add to the work and celebrate the history and culture of Aboriginal people in this community.
*Danielle Marks TAFE work placement student and volunteer with Red Cross