AshfieldCAN community Bench project Report

AshfieldCAN community Bench project Report

June 24, 2013 · Past Projects

Report for the AshfieldCAN Bench project
Community workshops report.
The Ashfield Community Bench Project was advertised in a newsletter that was delivered to every
resident in Ashfield as well as given to every child at Ashfield Primary School. The information for the
workshops was also advertised in the Bassendean Briefings and on the AshfieldCAN website and in
the Bassendean Library.
This project was really started with the Local History Afternoon tea which was held on 21ts August.
Although the Afternoon Tea was not technically included in the bench project it was the first forum
we had for discussing Ashfield and what it meant to the residents of Ashfield.
The History Afternoon Tea was well attended and it was good to see Ashfield residents catching up
with each other or meeting new people who had recently moved into the suburb. Around 25 people
attended this event.
The Afternoon tea was co hosted by Janet Megarrity from the Local studies Collection at the Town of
Bassendean Library and she was very pleased with the outcome of the event. She collected some
interesting information and a number of new leads of people she wished to interview.
Photographs belonging to residents were scanned in and documented for the Local studies
collection. Photos of the event were also taken. Some information has been put on our website.
There was quite a lot of interest in the Bench Project at this event especially as a number of residents are very keen to see the Benches on Ashfield Parade replaced as the previous ones were well used
Ashfield Primary School workshops
I have subsequently attended Ashfield Primary School on 29th and 30th August and on 5th and 6th
September 2011, and have had two sessions with each class in the school.
During the first session the student’s workshopped the idea of what Ashfield meant to them.
They were encouraged to draw pictures of a natural element found in Ashfield and pictures of the
things they liked to do best. They seemed to really enjoy telling the stories of what they did in
Ashfield and what it meant to them.
In the second session the students were encouraged to talk about all the elements that made up
community. -home, school, shops, playground, river, friends, trains, cars, roads etc.
Using their drawings from the previous week each class made a collage on a large piece of paper that
was a drawn up as a full scaled version of a bench back. Through each collage they created their
interpretation of their community. Each child in the school was represented on these works and
these were displayed at an open night at the school.
In the meantime I had taken their drawings and scanned them into my computer to use as the source
material for the design for their bench.
I chose a selection of drawings from each class and incorporated them into the design for the laser
cut panel.
This has proved to be a difficult task as I have had to modify the drawings to make them acceptable
for laser cutting but have not wanted to lose the integrity of the artwork of each drawing.
I believe these workshops have been very successful and the children have enjoyed them and
learned from them.
Community workshops – Sunday 4th,11th and 18th September at Ashfield Sports Club.
The turn out to the first workshop was poor. This was due to putting it on Father’s day.
This was a mistake on my part.
We have however had better turn outs to the subsequent workshops although not large.
The people who have attended the workshops have wanted to be part of the process but not
necessarily wanted to explore their artistic talents. We have had a couple of people that have wanted
to draw but others have just wanted offer suggestions and be part of the process.
The first workshop included a site visit to the river and the locations of where the benches will be
placed. It also included a long discussion about people’s memories of Ashfield and their associations
with the river.
Photographs were taken and ideas for different images were discussed. No drawings were made.
In the second workshop, more people attended and two participants plus myself had made drawings
during the week.
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These drawings were all discussed and a list of the things that people wanted to see on the benches
was drawn up. Some people drew while others watched. Again, long discussions about what was
important in Ashfield were pursued as well as what the future vision for the suburb was likely to be.
By the end of this meeting two themes were identified as being the most popular.
These themes were:
The importance of friendship, and
The natural environment, particularly the birdlife on and around the river.
In the following week I drafted the ideas into something more concrete to present at the following
workshop.
These designs were well received by the people who attended the workshop as well as by numerous
people who have supported the project but not attended the workshops. I believe the project has a
lot of support in the community.
There are a number of people who have enquired about sponsoring benches but I have decided to
keep this as a separate issue to pursue once this project has been completed.
In the third workshop we considered the use of resident’s names in the piece and opted for words
instead.
The response to putting resident’s names on the benches had not been good enough to get a
meaningful number of responses from all the residents from Ashfield.
The participants also felt that names would detract from the design.
The participants worked hard on finding a series of words they were happy with that embodied the
meanings of the benches.
The text has been acid etched onto stainless steel panels that have been fitted into recesses that
have been ground out of the plinths that the benches are installed on. This was a more costly and
time consuming process than first anticipated.
The school was also not in favour of children’s names on the benches and has opted to extend the
project into getting the children to write a favourite word or sentence to describe where they live.

We have chosen one piece of text and another series of images to create this stainless steel panel