On the trail of art

Healesville artist Carla Rose with her intricate textile piece, 'Forest Goddess'. 161555_05 Pictures: GREG CARRICK

By Kath Gannaway

MORE than 100 people celebrated the launch of the 2016 Toolangi Sculpture Trail project and the opening of the Yarra Valley Arts ‘Regeneration Small Sculpture Exhibition’ on Sunday, 6 November.
The event heralds an exciting regeneration of community art culture in Toolangi after the closure of the Forest Discovery Centre in 2012, and 20 years after the original sculpture trail was created in 1996.
Fourteen artists will be involved in the two-week residency over the next two weeks in a program that involves workshops with local school and youth groups and guided tours of the sculpture trail as a work in progress.
‘Regeneration’ features the works of artists, both local and from further afield, and is staged within the unique architecture of the recently re-opened Forest Discovery Centre.
Mounted within a 50x50cm base, the sculptures provide insights into the artists’ concerns for the environment.
Among a number of speakers at the opening were Taungurung elder and artist Mick Harding, Yarra Valley Arts president, Marcel Theunissen, artist Ernst Fries who was the originator of the 1996 sculpture trail, Michael Nardella chair of Kinglake Ranges Foundation, and Sharon Plummer, project manager of the Toolangi Sculpture Trail.
Ms Plummer said one of the most memorable aspects of the day was having Mr Harding perform the traditional Welcome to Country smoking ceremony.
“It was very significant for the project to have that cleansing of the site for everyone who is participating in and visiting the event,” Ms Plummer said.
While the artists in residence start in earnest this week, Ms Plummer recommended the second week as the ideal time to walk through the trail, observe the artists at work and take a guided tour.
The family day on Saturday, 12 November, includes Gould League workshops for kids, Yarning the Web with traditional weaving workshops, creation of the Community Sculpture and a Spotlight Forest Tour.
Yarning the Web continues on the Sunday, along with artists’ talks and demonstrations and the Spotlight Forest Tour.
The Closing Ceremony is on Sunday, 20 November with Aunty Lee Healey narrating ‘The First Taungurung Women’ accompanied by Toolangi Primary School students.
The sculptures will be formally gifted to the community and the trail declared open on the day.
For a full program of events visit www.toolangisculpture.com.
The Regeneration Small Sculpture Exhibition is open daily from 10am to 4pm until 27 November. The Toolangi Forest Discovery Centre is at 1687 Healesville-Kinglake Road, Toolangi.