Young people, disability and community groups, along with The Entrance Men’s Shed have come together with their creative talents to create the Big Chair interactive art installations, which are now set up in five Central Coast town centres this Summer.
Five oversized wooden chairs have been constructed by members of The Entrance Men’s Shed and used as the canvas for artwork created by young people from Gorokan and Terrigal High Schools and The Epicentre Community Centre, plus a team from Fairhaven’s Australian Disability Enterprise Team. Each chair’s artwork is inspired by the unique identity of the local areas where they will be installed to engage the community and improve the visitor experience. Chairs will be located in:
- MacKenzie Reserve – Budgewoi (Weemala Street)
- Canton Beach foreshore – Toukley (Beach Parade, close to the intersection with Lakeview Parade)
- Woy Woy Wharf foreshore – Woy Woy (Brick Wharf Rd, near the playspace)
- Terrigal Beach foreshore – Terrigal (Terrigal Esplanade, next to Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club)
- Umina Beach foreshore – Umina (Sydney Ave, next to Umina Surf Life Saving Club)
The creation of the Big Chair project has brought various community groups and Council’s eMerge youth program into partnership. This program supports emerging artists and has provided an opportunity for participants to explore their creativity and showcase their talents to the wider community.
It’s great to see this creative endeavour come to fruition by the community despite the interruption by COVID restrictions this year.
The Big Chair art program has not only provided a creative outlet and important social connection for the creators but has also delivered an engaging art installation for the rest of the community and visitors to enjoy.
Take a seat, take in the sights and sounds of nature, snap a photo and share on your social media tagging #CCbigchairs with the corresponding town centre location, #lovetoukley, #lovebudgewoi, #loveumina, #lovewoywoy, #loveterrigal.
Contributor and design background
Umina and Woy Woy Big Chairs
Fairhaven is a local disability service provider and the largest provider of employment for people living with a disability on the Central Coast. It’s staff and volunteers led a supported employment team to create artwork on two of the chairs to be located at Woy Woy and Umina town centres.
Umina and Woy Woy Big Chair design symbolism
The artists from Fairhaven drew inspiration for the Big Chair artwork design from the natural surroundings of Woy Woy and Umina including the unmistakable identity of the waterways that land lock this peninsula.
The water graphic consistently identified as the strongest common element across the whole Peninsula is embedded in the area’s identity - the wharf in Woy Woy sits calmly on the shores of Brisbane Water. Umina Beach is all about fun in the sun, surfing the waves and enjoying life. The essence of the Central Coast - freedom - is depicted through the fluidity and connection of the graphics.
Terrigal Big Chair
This year, Council’s eMerge program engaged young people from Terrigal High School to deliver one of the five Big Chairs from the Big Chair art trail.
Earlier this year, ten students were engaged to conceptualise, interpret and develop ideas around the identity of Terrigal. Once COVID restrictions were lifted later in the year, the eMerge Big Chair program was able to re-engage these young people to complete the concept development, design and artmaking of the Big Chair which will be showcased in Terrigal.
Terrigal Big Chair design symbolism
The emerging artists developed their design to reflect their connection to the ocean and Terrigal Beach itself as their second home, where they spend most of their free time enjoying the ocean and surrounds and all it has to offer from surfing, stand up paddle boarding to swimming, scuba diving and snorkelling and their respect of the ocean environment and the creatures living within.
The connection to the ocean creates a sense peace and awe at the same time and many people feel a spiritual and meditative tie with the ocean, whether they are lounging near the water, active in it or submerged under it. Entering this underwater world everything happens in slow-motion and there is a heightened sense of awareness of self and movements.
The smallest to the largest living creatures that live on the earth, live in the ocean. The ocean creatures depicted in this design (starfish, octopus, turtle, stingray, dolphin and whale) are commonly found in the waters around Terrigal Beach.
The rear facing side of the seat depicts the Haven featuring the skillion as another popular place that people come to from dawn to dusk to enjoy the views and the space. In the background a large lone Norfolk pine is depicted at night, as a reference to the unique nightlife of Terrigal.
Toukley and Budgewoi Big Chairs
Council’s eMerge program partnered with the Epicentre Community Centre San Remo to engage young people from across the Northern end of the Central Coast region to deliver two of the five Big Chairs.
Early 2020, local youth were engaged from the northern community and Gorokan High School to conceptualise, interpret and develop ideas around the Budgewoi and Toukley Town Centre identity packages. Once COVID restrictions eased these youth re-connected along with other emerging artists from the region to participate in Big Chair Paint Out sessions held at the Gravity Youth Centre across the September and October school holidays. Workshops continued on a weekly basis until December to complete the designs with 29 young people actively involved in the concept development, design and artmaking of the two Big Chairs which will be showcased at Canton Beach, Toukley and MacKenzie Reserve, Budgewoi.
Toukley Big Chair design symbolism
Drawing on the concepts from the town’s identity, the emerging artists interpreted the design to reflect the significant importance of the environment around them.
The name ’Toukley’ is of indigenous origin but the original meaning is now uncertain. Two very different theories are that 'Toukley' means 'many brambles', or that 'Toukley Oukley' means 'rough on one side, smooth on the other', interpreted as referring to Tuggerah Lake and Budgewoi Lake.
It is with this in mind that the artists came up with the concept that they could design Mother Nature as a bramble/tree like creature to capture the essence of nurturing nature and to reflect the nature of the two lakes.
The front facing chair back displays a starlit night sky with Mother Nature carefully holding in her hands a Yin and Yang symbol to reflect the importance of the local ecology and to keep a balance with the waterways and the land.
Yin and Yang is a concept of dualism - describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate with one another.
There are three Yin and Yang symbols on the Big Chair, and these were designed to reflect the two lakes and reflect the beauty of the sunrise and sunset over the lakes.
The Yin and Yang symbol was also selected to best represent the significant Chinese Cultural history of the Toukley/Canton Beach area. Canton Beach was named in honour of the Chinese fishermen who in the 1850s dried prawns in the area for eventual export to China. Canton was the then-name of the city today known as Ghuangzhou.
The Black Swan is native to Australia and identified as belonging to this area and is consequently depicted on the rear facing side of the Big Chair. The Dreamtime story of the Black Swan – Guunyu, talks of rising above adversity with support. The Black Swan signifies having personal insight about yourself which changes your position from one of victim to victor; and is a graceful reminder to move from any position where you feel powerless and at the mercy of external forces, to reclaim your personal power.
Symbolism – Budgewoi/ MacKenzie Reserve
Drawing on the concepts from the identity package, the emerging artists interpreted the design under the concept of the ‘Sounds of Nature’, to feature birdlife.
The Dreamtime story of the Cockatoo is significant as a reminder of the balance of life* which now more than ever is becoming increasingly more important for one’s own personal health and well-being in a fast-paced, modern world.
The Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo is featured on the front of the chair; the white cockatoos on the rear facing back of the Big Chair, are depicted in flight over the Mackenzie Park bridge.
Other birdlife was also depicted on the arm rests with bird silhouettes playing the part of musical notes themselves, to symbolise the underlying nature of the song learning system of the birds. Most singing birds must learn their songs from adult birds, most often their father. If it's too late in the season for a chipping bird to memorize their father's song, they'll have to wait until the next spring, after migration, to learn from another male. The song-learning system in songbirds is flexible enough to adapt to different lifestyles and needs.
The seat of the Big Chair depicts the notes from the chorus of the Bee Gees song “Words”. This music was suggested as a reminder of the power of words and how they can make you happy or sad. The song’s meaning is as relevant today as when the song first came out.
Big Chair Construction
All five Big Chairs were constructed by the skilled members of The Entrance Men’s Shed.
The Entrance Men's Shed provides a place for mature men to gather, share skills and stories while developing friendships and working together on projects that benefit themselves and the community.
For more information on The Entrance Men’s Shed visit their online profile.