This guest post is by Catherine McLennan. As part of her Master of Public History, Catherine completed a student internship with Museum Victoria, working with Senior Curator Liza Dale-Hallett on a special object that was acquired for the Victorian Bushfires Collection. This collection recently won the 2010 Arts Portfolio Leadership Award in the Community Leadership category.
This year I was given the opportunity to work on the Victorian Bushfires Collection. In my role as student intern, I was assigned to research a tree-shaped sculpture, interview its makers and create some stories for publication on Museum Victoria’s Collections Online. When I first laid eyes on this beautiful piece of art, I had no idea who made it, why they made it, or what it represented. It was time for some research…
The Thank You Gift
Source: Museum Victoria
After a few phone calls, I learnt that the sculpture was created in the Kinglake Ranges by local woodworker Glenn Barlow and local blacksmith Ray Brasser, using wood and metal that had been salvaged from their properties following the 2009 Victorian bushfires. Glenn and Ray presented this sculpture to the ex-Premier of Victoria John Brumby at a concert that was held at Federation Square, Melbourne, on 10 April 2010 – the Thank You Melbourne and Victoria concert. The purpose of this concert was to thank the people of Victoria for their generosity in the wake of Black Saturday and the sculpture was made as a physical token of this ‘thank you’ message.
In September I travelled to Kinglake to meet and interview Ray, Glenn and three other people that were involved in organising the Thank You Melbourne and Victoria concert. It was an honour to meet these people. All of them had been through some terrible experiences during and after the fires, but despite this, they were so welcoming and had a great sense of humour. Organising the Thank You concert was, for them, a way of channelling their grief and getting local musicians, artists and poets involved in the recovery process whilst simultaneously saying ‘thank you’.
Researching the Thank You Gift was an incredible experience that I will never forget. I would like to thank those who were so generous in sharing their stories with me (they know who they are), and to Museum Victoria for hosting my student internship.
2010 Arts Portfolio Leadership Awards
Thank You Gift on Collections Online
Making of the Thank You Gift
Thank You Melbourne and Victoria concert