Coonamble Shire now proudly boasts town signage and sculptures that celebrate Wailwan culture and local birdlife.  This major community art and economic development project supports a renewed focus on tourism. The signs and sculptures mark the entries to Coonamble, Gulargambone and Quambone.

Coonamble Visitor Information Centre

Zest worked in partnership with Donald, Cant, Watts and Corke, to produce this public art project for Coonamble Shire Council. The contract in October 2020 and the consultation and design was threaded through the lockdowns, storms and floods of 2021/22.

Zest’s role included:

  • consultation with Indigenous elders and communities throughout the Shire
  • sourcing and mentoring local artists and artisans through the design, manufacture and installation of the art trail
  • management and quality control of external contractors to meet Council and RMS engineering and safety standards

Community consultation decides direction

Zest’s Creative Director Andi Mether consulted with community in each town and unearthed local talent to develop the designs and manufacture of the art trail. The consultation process identified a desire for Wailwan culture to be showcased, and lead to the engagement of Wailwan Elder and Artist Sooty Welsh to design a modern interpretation of the markings once carved into the landscape by traditional people.  Conversations with Sooty also resulted the view of the Warrumbungles being included in the landmark signs.

“The Warrumbungles are important to local people, when we see that view we know we’re home” said Wailwan Elder Sooty Welsh.

Team effort builds Pride

The three teams across the Shire included:  Artists Jamie-Lea Trindall, Sooty Welsh who designed the emus and Molly Mackay who created the 16 sculptures; in Gulargambone Artist Ana Robson designed the ‘Arboreal Metamorphosis’, and created it with Sam Wykes, and Alan Wykes; and in Quambone, the design for the Marshland birds came from an original concept by then-student Harriet O’Brien was adapted by a team including her parents Jim and Jo and local Wailwan elder Bertie Bartholomew.

“There is a great amount of talent in these towns.” said Ms Mether, “Bringing people together, talking, learning, sharing and seeing their skills grow and has been a real joy.  This is community engagement at its best, no doubt it will leave a new legacy for each community”.

Landmarks drive Tourism and create a Legacy 

The completed art trail honours Wailwan heritage and recognises agricultural industry. The sculptures of the birds identify each town and Sooty Welsh’s design based on his Wailwan heritage links all of the artworks and signage across the Shire.

Behind the signs and sculptures are the conversations, the connections, the upskilling, the knowledge sharing which will benefit the individuals involved and the community at large.

“The feedback on our town signs in Quambone has been great, I keep getting phone calls about them,” beamed Jim O’Brien from Quambone. “We couldn’t be happier, I’m so glad to have been involved.  Quambone is our home and now this is a story we have shared with our children and will share with our grandchildren”.

Ute driving by Quambone town entry signs and sculptures

Do yourself a favour and Visit Coonamble Shire and explore these great towns.  Say hi to the locals for us!

Find out more about our Strategic Public Art Projects and contact us to discuss your plans.

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