Adding art to supportive space

April 16, 2024 BY

Growing tradition: Alison McRae, Shannon Mennen and Lyndel Ward are some of the women involved with the yarning garden program at Barkly Square. Photo: SUPPLIED

PLANS to beautify Barkly Square’s courtyard as part of a collaboration between Food is Free and Women’s Health Grampians are now a step closer thanks to support from Regional Arts Victoria.

The yarning garden initiative aimed at establishing a supportive green

space for the region’s First Nations women is being complemented with

an artwork overseen by project

member and Indigenous creative Alison McRae.

“We want it with bright, bold colours using the plants that are going to be in the garden like finger limes and traditional Indigenous foods,” she said.

“We might include some traditional weaving baskets, coolamons, and the Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrung crow totem. We’re also incorporating the platypus acknowledging how a lot of Ballarat Indigenous people are from different areas.

“It’s important everyone has a bit of input in it.”

Work on the piece started on Wednesday morning with First Nations women invited to add something of their own Indigenous background to the work.

The creative component is being funded with $1000 from Regional Arts Victoria.

McRae said the work is about expressing the ethos behind the yarning garden project.

“It’s about building relationships and trusting one another and collaborating and working as a team for what we want,” she said.

“We’re a small group at the moment, and like the garden, we want it to grow and we want relationships to grow and for people to come in, have a yarn or a cuppa, and bring in different ideas.

“I’m hoping other women will come in and get involved.”

The yarning garden project is also being supported through the City of Ballarat’s Empowering Communities grant program.

As well as gardening and artistic efforts, the initiative is set to include workshops around traditional basket weaving, cooking with bush tucker, possum skin cloak making, and sessions around health and nutrition.