PAINTED by 210 STAFF and PARTICIPANTS
of CHELSEA NEIGHBOURHOOD HOUSE CHELSEA VICTORIA AUSTRALIA
3m x 1.4m
The MAC.ART ‘Longbeach’ artwork was commissioned to hang in the reception area of Longbeach Place Incorporated, which opened to the public in February 2004. The artwork commemorates individual achievement and the activities and educational programs that have originated from Chelsea Neighbourhood House over the past twenty-eight years. Chelsea has also been my home town for some thirty years.
The artwork celebrates not only Chelsea Neighbourhood House, but also life in the area that used to be called ‘Longbeach’. A 1928 railway poster describes ‘Longbeach’ as ‘the ideal bathing beach’…‘taking in Edithvale, Chelsea, Bonbeach, Carrum and Seaford’. The advertisement further describes the area as ‘never crowded, doesn’t get disfigured with unsightly and unsavoury debris, is within easy and inexpensive reach of town, and where the sea is perfectly safe for children as well as grown ups’.
The two black columns that anchor the work at either end record the names of each individual who created the work. The small yellow and red handprints symbolically acknowledge the Kurran group of Bunurong people, the traditional owners of ‘Longbeach’, and recognises that reconciliation is in the hands of the children and future generations.
The Edithvale Wetlands, the home of red kangaroos and a myriad of native and migratory bird species, run across the top of the work. The wattle and tee-trees, and gum nuts and branches, along with the kangaroos, and birds and the bicycle rider all represent the important responsibility of individuals to maintain the delicate ecological balance of flora and fauna unique to the area through conservation and preservation.
A patchwork of roof-tops and brightly coloured bathing boxes opening onto the beach and Port Phillip Bay dominate the bottom third of the work. Based on a 1920’s photograph of the Chelsea Lifesaving Club on parade, the colourful lifesavers represent the important role Chelsea Neighbourhood House plays as both lifesaver and a ‘life-line’ to individual class participants who improve their life skills at the House. The courses offered at the house encourage participants in their quest to acquire the skills and confidence to step forward into the future, after completing the many educational programs on offer.
The dozens of programs that have run at Chelsea Neighbourhood House are represented on the pages of an open book in the centre of the work. Computers and literacy, music, sign language and cake decorating to cite a few of the image subjects, are overseen by the rusty red rocks of the planet Mars, which dominated the night sky throughout the program’s duration.
The clasped hands represent the powerful force of universal energy within the many world religions that circle the centre sun. Over the rainbow, peace and love, propelled by grace and goodwill, are the sentiments from peoples from around the world, symbolically joined together in a hand chain across the centre panel.
Chelsea’s famous and unique ‘clock’ traffic lights and a sepia depiction of the Chelsea General Store speak of the colourful history of Chelsea in a bye-gone era. ‘Ma’ Dodd’s jinker taxi service that played a vital role in ferrying many young men and women, not only to bush dances on Wells Road, but also to lifelong partnerships, is seen parked at Chelsea Station. A Country Fire Authority tower, a familiar sight in ‘Longbeach’, is a commemoration of the valuable work that thousands of volunteer firemen and women have made to the community over time.
Phar Lap, Australia’s legendary equine hero, enjoyed the lush green grass of the rolling Aspendale paddocks and swam off Mordialloc beach. The footballer and fish and chips, the boats, bathing boxes and belles, the banksia, the pier, the Holden, the sand and the shells, all represent the vibrant community of Chelsea Neighbourhood House, the ‘Longbeach’ way of life and the vitality of each of the artists who created the work.