May 25, 2017
A new garden and public art space at the Scott Haven Independent Living Complex in Hart Street, Blackbutt was officially opened on Wednesday morning … with a tile glueing ceremony.
The opening marked the end of an eighteen month community arts project run by the Blackbutt-Benarkin Aged Care Association (BBACA), which saw dozens of Timbertowners participate in art workshops to learn how to create tiles, totem poles and a carved wooden garden seat for Scott Haven’s residents and visitors.
The project – “Connecting Heart To Hart” – was jointly funded by Stanwell Corporation, FRRR, the South Burnett Regional Council and Regional Arts Australia.
It began in November 2015 when the BBACA installed a new white picket fence outside the Scott Haven complex and decided they’d like to put a garden and public art space behind it.
Without any clear idea of what form the public art space might take, the group successfully applied for funding to run a series of community art workshops, which kicked off in February last year and ran through until March this year.
The workshops were all run by different artists, and the aim was to teach attendees different art and woodworking techniques that could be used not only for the Scott Haven project, but to benefit other aspects of the Timbertowns in the future.
The range of workshops on offer was wide.
Gold Coast Indigenous artist Glennys Briggs came to Blackbutt to share her painting techniques in one, and renowned wood sculptor Shane Christensen instructed interested South Burnett locals about his own field in two others.
But what turned out to be a particularly pivotal workshop was one run by South Burnett artist Cary “Gus” McAulay last October.
At his workshop, Cary got participants to create designs which could later be converted into ceramic tiles, and ideas about what shape the new garden could take sprang out of this.
Timber from an old wooden fence at the Blackbutt Showgrounds that was going to go onto a bonfire was secured to create totem poles to hold the tiles, along with other scrap wood that could be used to create a garden bench.
And over the past few months, all the separate pieces were brought together to create the new Hart Street feature.
On Wednesday morning, artists and students, Scott Haven residents, and BBACA members and supporters assembled at Scott Haven to glue sixteen tiles into eight totem poles to complete the project.
They also came to see Jenny Gregg, Stanwell’s Executive General Manager of Business Services, declare the garden and totem pole walk open.
Jenny, who is chair of the Tarong Community Partnerships Fund, said the “Connecting Heart To Hart” project exemplified the wide-ranging community involvement the Fund liked to see in grant applications.
The project was long running, involved people from all walks of life, and created a positive and lasting legacy for the Timbertowns, she said.
Jeff Connor, the chair of BBACA, thanked Stanwell and the project’s other sponsors for their support.
“We will be continuing to work with the community on other projects to increase infrastructure and services for the seniors in our community,” he said.
One of these projects is BBACA’s ambition to expand Scott Haven – which at present has four single-bedroom duplex units – by adding another three two-bedroom units on vacant Council land nearby.
“Scott Haven provides affordable accommodation for aged people who don’t own their own home and really couldn’t afford to live in the private rental market,” Jeff said.
“We need more of this type of accommodation for our seniors, and as a group we’re going to keep working on getting a solution for this.”
Footnote: Scott Haven was built in 1978 as a joint project between the former Nanango Shire Council, Queensland’s Health Department and the former Australian Department of Social Security. In the past 39 years – during which time Blackbutt’s population has almost tripled – no additional supported accommodation for Timbertowns residents has been built.