Community Projects

This category contains 12 posts

Pit Firing Community Project – The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling.

Last week I facilitated a pit firing workshop for a community project which is part of a group exhibition commemorating the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling. One of the exhibiting artists Heather Hesterman is creating an installation consisting of ceramic pinch pots en masse and plants referencing Walling’s love of constructing gardens. The pots have been made by Hesterman’s friends, acquaintances and members of the community, both adults and children, coming together to make approximately 300 palm sized pots.

During Hesterman’s research for the project she discovered an anecdote found in Walling’s writings, indicating Walling’s joy of witnessing a friend hand-build a small pot from clay, fire it and then fill it with the local native plant species, Thomasia petalocalyx.  This event together with ‘The Chalet’, which Walling had built along the Great Ocean Road, being burnt down, along with 2 other residences, inspired Hesterman’s methodology in developing the installation.

Part of that methodology involved the firing of the clay pots made during the project – enter a pit firing! As regular readers may know usually when I pit fire I add lots of varying organic ingredients and wrap the pots in seaweed, gum leaves, copper wire and the like. This endows the finished pots with a vibrant dappled colour response. Hesterman, however, wanted the smoky greys and blacks of fire to be captured on the pot surfaces, so the pit was fired using only sawdust. The sawdust creates a higher likelihood of a reduction atmosphere in the pit allowing for carbonisation of the clay surface.

The firing was successful overall with results ranging from soft smoky greys through to strong oil slick blacks.

Lisa Byrne, Director of ArtSpace at Realm, Maroondah City Council, is curating a group exhibition The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling. The exhibition commemorates the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling with artists Heather Hesterman, Rebecca Mayo and landscape designer/construction Sam Cox.

The exhibition will be held at the gallery ArtSpace at Realm, Ringwood Town Square, 179 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood. 03 92984553, 19 Sept – 13 Nov 2017, with the official opening on Saturday 21 October 2-4pm.

More information can be round on the website

And now enjoy the pics of the sawdust firing process 🙂

Sunday Studio Visit – community projects

What a busy Sunday this has been!

This morning I worked with the community from Scotsburn and surrounds as part of the ongoing bushfire relief project – of which you can see previous posts HERE. And then this afternoon I ran a workshop for the Ballarat branch of Yellow Ladybugs – a group that connects girl with autism – its been a great day!!

The Scotsburn group continue to create some fab ceramics – with a concentration on Christmas decorations this session. The bushfire occurred a week before Christmas in 2015, so there were lots of positive messages inscribed onto the decorations.

Scotsburn bush fire relief

And there were also some creative additions – all to be exhibited in the end of the year exhibition to coincide with the anniversary picnic in December.

In the afternoon the Ladybug girls produced some amazing treasure boxes – they so enjoyed it, and so did I !!!


Sunday Studio Visit – another art session for the Scotsburn Bushfire Recovery Art project

I am writing this a day late as yesterday (Sunday) I just ran out of time after being at the Scotsburn Bushfire Art Relief project all day and then visiting friends who live in Scotsburn, and just managed to save their property, for dinner.

The Scotsburn fires happened a week before Christmas last year (2015), and burnt through  4,000 hectares, taking livestock, shedding, homes and precious memories.


The Victorian government appointed a bushfire relief officer to facilitate healing in the community and as part of that initiative an arts program was established.

This is the second art session we have held in the community – you can check out the first session HERE.

And here are some pics of the finished works from the first session:

There will be a third session in mid November culminating in an exhibition to be held for a week and coinciding with the Anniversary Family BBQ being held in December to bring the community together and commemorate the bushfire.

The session included clay (me), drawing, felting and jewellery making, and the community had a great day with a BBQ lunch between sessions.

Following are some pics from the day and go to show how art is integral to bringing communities together and healing 🙂

Sunday Studio Visit – taking the studio out of the studio!

Today’s Sunday studio visit is a visit outside the studio – I spent the day running clay workshops as part of the Scotsburn Fire Recovery Art project.

Scotsburn is a beautiful picturesque rural community on the outskirts of Ballarat in regional Australia.

Photo : Dawn Whitehand Scotsburn Bushfires 2015

Photo : Dawn Whitehand Scotsburn Bushfires 2015

The bushfire happened in December 2015, and burnt through 4,000 hectares, taking livestock, shedding, homes and precious memories.

I remember the day vividly . I live in Dunnstown – a stones throw away as the crow flys – and have friends living in the area, so we were very concerned and attentive to the situation on the day. In fact we watched the huge D10 waterbomber zigzag across the sky approaching the area to douse the flames. It was very scary and in the following days I visited the area and documented the scene in an artist capacity. I have not, as yet, developed these images in any way out of sensitivity to a community that is, and will be for quite some time, hurting on many levels.

It is in response to this hurt that an arts recovery program has been developed to engage with the local community – art being an important vehicle toward expression and healing. There are a variety of activities being offered to the community in a series of workshops – clay (that’s me), felting, drawing and jewellery making – which will culminate in an exhibition at the end of the year.

And today was the first session! And I had some some happy cheesy smiley people playing with clay!

Dawn Whitehand Scotsburn arts recovery program

The day was divided into a morning and afternoon session with a BBQ lunch in between – complete with vegetarian BBQ! lucky for me 🙂

Lots of fab work was made during the day, and I can’t wait for the future sessions and the exhibition in November!

And here are some pics from the day – enjoy!

Dawn Whitehand Scotsburn arts recovery program

Dawn Whitehand Scotsburn arts recovery program

Dawn Whitehand Scotsburn arts recovery programDawn Whitehand Scotsburn arts recovery program

Finished creations

Finished creations


Mosaics Project: the official launch!

Regular readers will be aware that over the past two terms I have been working with a group of enthusiastic special needs people at the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre. The group, with some others from the centre, have been working on creating a community garden, and the group of people I worked with were specifically concentrating on the sensory garden. The garden includes a bed of fragrant plants and herbs, two bench seats and mosaic pavers made by each participant being installed in the pebble pathway, and a group mosaic mounted on the wall. You can check out previous about the making of the mosaics HERE.

Dawn Whitehand Mosaic Project_031

The theme of the project was Literacy and Learning through Community Gardening, a great concept, and after many weeks of hard, and fun, work, the mosaics have been finally installed and the project was officially launched on Wednesday with all the stakeholders present, including sponsors, funders, community supporters, creators, Neighbourhood Centre employees and the range of people who actively worked to create the project, such as my little group. Greens councillour, and now deputy mayor, Belinda Coates officially launched the project with a short speech and the cutting of the ribbon.

Dawn Whitehand Mosaic Project_008

It was a great afternoon, and the group were so proud of their achievements, seeing their mosaic pieces within the garden and observing the overall enthusiasm from all the people attending the function. A couple of them even made speeches along with the project co-ordinator Kate Owen.

As well as the sensory garden the overall project also includes a series of wicking beds for growing herbs, vegetables and flowers, so the project does have a long term learning aim through harvesting and maintaining the overall garden. And the added bonus being that as the garden grows and becomes more established it will be a lovely community space that anybody can access for some relaxing and time out.

The afternoon finished with afternoon tea which included a lemon slice which was actually ‘lemony’ – yum! The function room walls were also adorned with lots of photo essays of the project as it progressed and was an interesting and fun way to look back at the development of the project in its entirety.

Dawn Whitehand Mosaic Project_029

Personally, it was a great experience for me… I had a little exposure to mosaics many years ago, and with funding from Regional Arts Victoria was able to partake in a weekend workshop with mosaics expert Helen Bodycomb to refresh and refine my skills for the project. Helen remained ‘on call’ for any advise, which was great. Overall, it was a great project professionally, but also personally satisfying, with a fantastic community outcome.

Following are few photo galleries of the afternoon – enjoy 🙂

People gathering in anticipation of the launch

Admiring the mosaics!

They are ssooo touch feely! (this is Helen with whom I did the workshop)

Dawn Whitehand Mosaic Project_019

Discussing the group mosaic piece with Malcolm Sanders, Central Highlands representative for Regional Arts Victoria.

Dawn Whitehand Mosaic Project_020

And to finish some overall pics of the installed mosaics 🙂

Mosaics Project – an update

Mosaics Project at the Ballarat Neighbourhood House.

Hello everyone, hope you have all had a good week.

Just checking in with a quick update on the mosaics project I have been working on for the past two school terms.

The group meets once a week for two and a half hours and we have accomplished so much in this time – a mosaiced garden paver each, and a group mural which we almost finished by the end of the last sessions. Four of the segments are ready to grout next week, and the two will be ready by the end of the next session.

So, I couldn’t resist doing a test run of how the overall mural is coming together, and I must say it looks great and the students were really excited to see the overall effect.

Have a great weekend – and see you for the Sunday studio visit 🙂


Mosaics project in Ballarat

Hello all – an update on the community mosaic project for you, previous posts of which can be seen HERE.

After finishing our mosaic pavers for the sensory garden we are now full steam ahead on completing the group mural for the garden – this is a bit more tricky as we have to make sure the separate components match up with each other in the overall scheme.


The group setted on a tree theme, which I then divided into portions so that each student could have a unique input into their segment of the tree – so we have lizards, owls, flowers, snakes and all sorts of gardeny stuff!

It is shaping up to look fantastic!! I a very excited 🙂

Happy Spring!!

Happy Spring everyone – if you are in the Southern hemisphere (which I am)…. if not Happy New Season!!


Sorry, I missed the last Sunday studio visit…. my gorgeous studio companion,Eddy, passed away after a rapid illness – thankfully it was not drawn out and painful… but he is sorely missed. As an artist i work from home so he has been my constant companion, and the house and studio has felt weird without him. In fact the classes I taught last week were the first in ten years I had undertaken without him – so it felt very strange ; for me & long term students alike.

IMAG0342 (2)


Tomorrow I am teaching at the Ballarat Community Centre continuing on with the mosaics project we have been working on for two school terms, so I will post about that next – stay tuned. Check out previous posts about this project HERE

Talk soon 🙂


Mosaics Project at the Ballarat Neighourhood Centre

Regular readers will know I am co-ordinating a community art project at the Ballarat Neighbourhood House. The great news it is all on schedule – the individual mosaics project is almost complete…. it won’t be long till we move onto the group mosaic mural.

It has been such a great project with the students being so enthusiastic about learning something new within the context of literacy and numeracy.

Here’s some pics of the almost finished work – some pavers have been grouted and need a final clean-up, the others have been cemented to the concrete pavers and will be grouted next week.

They will look fantastic once they are installed in the community garden.


Term Three and a Continuation of Art Projects

Art Projects in Ballarat

As regular readers will know besides making art which I like to EXHIBIT and designing under my DeeDeeDeesigns brand, I also teach and run workshops in and around Ballarat.

The last few weeks I have been on term break from teaching, but now I am well and truly back in the swing.

As well as running ceramic classes and workshops for my ClayMotion business, I have also been involved in a community gardening project with the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre – you can check out an earlier post HERE.

I am co-ordinating the mosaics portion of the gardening project, and today we began mounting our mesh mosaic designs onto the concrete pavers which will be installed into the garden – there was much excitement, it is starting to become real!!

Stay tuned for further developments 🙂



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