In 2013 five Foster Secondary College Students attended a Community Leadership Program at the Alpine School. At the end of the program they were asked to come up with a project to work on within their local community. They wanted to create more exciting laneways in Foster with artwork and murals and began talking to local public artist and sculptor David Bell about their ideas.
At the same time the Foster Community Association received a local government community grant to contract David Bell and project manager Rebecca Matthews to design three laneways in the Main Street of Foster in consultation with the local community. David continued to talk to the students about their ideas, and how they would like to be involved. The community surveys revealed that the laneway adjacent to True Value Hardware and Skye’s Café was an area that many local people associate with young people, and in fact wanted to encourage them to have some ownership over this space.
The final laneways concept designs by David Bell were delivered to the Foster Community Association in February 2015. Shortly afterwards the South Gippsland Shire Council provided some funding towards the laneway project.
David discussed his concepts with the students, and they particularly liked the idea of the ‘community hallway’ – a collection of framed, individual artworks (like you might find a series of family photos in grandma’s hallway).
Manna Gum Community House took on the developed project at this stage, and successfully applied for grant funding through National Youth Week 2016 to complete the artwork and installation. Picture frames were collected from the community and from local op-shops, which provided an eclectic mix of shapes and sizes to host a painted work.
In April 2016 Manna Gum Community House hosted a community workshop for young people aged between 12-25 led by local artists Ann Parry and Kim McDonald. The students were asked to capture a memory on a painted canvas. Later in 2016 additional work was produced in further workshops held at the Foster Secondary College (Year 11 art students) with Ann, Kim and art teacher Jacqui Dinsbergs.
The artworks were painted directly onto marine plywood, which was cut to fit the recycled frame. The glass was removed and replaced with a hard-wearing UV resistant polycarbonate. The entire work was water-sealed with epoxy glue and silicone and completely weatherproofed.
David Bell completed the assembly and installation of the work with the curatorial assistance of Ann Parry and Kim McDonald in July 2017.
There are many people to thank for their support over the long history of this project – several of them have volunteered their time:
Sponsors: National Youth Week and South Gippsland Shire Council
Concept Design: David Bell
Artists: Kim McDonald, Ann Parry
Foster Secondary College: Rhonda Mayo, Jacqui Dinsbergs
Additional technical assistance: Ken Stranger, Mitch Swann, Trevor Ketchell, Terry Green, Jeff Bell
Dave Country (True Value Hardware) and Skye Dubignon (Skye’s Café) for their support
Foster Community Association: Lynn Atkinson
and the young people who took part in our workshops and produced some amazing art
Zoi Mara Banikos