By BARRY JENNINGS
WITH Cowarra Dam at 79 per cent capacity on Friday, the water view was a welcome backdrop for the public art project recognised by the Local Government Association of NSW as a 2005 cultural awards winner.
The impressive artwork includes 20 carved and decorated totems which stand like sentinals overlooking the dam.
The art project was one of 68 entries from across the state to win prestigious cultural awards run by the Local Government Association of NSW.
Representatives of the association were present at a special celebration at the dam to meet the local Aboriginal artists and project partners.
Recognising the traditional custodian of the site in 2004, Hastings Council commissioned the artists to create public artworks to acknowledge and respect Aboriginal cultural heritage and contribution to the dam.
Artists Lois Davis, Isabell Moran, Frank Dargin and Maria Ritchie were nominated by the Bunyah Local Aboriginal Land Council to develop designs which were incorporated into public art installations for the picnic area.
The artists created three ceramic mosaic entrance panels, 20 totems, ceramic viewing benches and graphic designs for a series of entry panels. The project was co-ordinated by artist Stephen Killick.
The trainee public artists team of Gary Chapman, Amos Donovan, Kylie Dyson, Maria Ritchie and Shane Shields carved and painted the poles using timber reclaimed from the site.
According to the president of the LGA of NSW, Cr Genia McCafferty, councils across NSW were responding to increasing community awareness and interest in cultural issues.
"Many councils are working on initiatives, such as the Cowarra Dam Art Project, that maintain or enhance the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of their community."
An informal ceremony on Friday acknowledged the council's award for the public art project.
The art project was the result of a partnership between the council, Bunyah land council, WaterWise and the Wauchope campus of TAFE.