Published on 27 October 2023

Telling stories through public art

Ngarrindjeri artist Thomas Readett has been chosen to create the next sculpture at Aberfoyle Park’s Storybook Walk, which will bring to life popular children’s book, Frog Finds a Place.

The announcement comes as a new “beautification” project in Old Reynella—which involved the creation of a range of vibrant public artworks, including two by Readett—was officially launched to the community earlier this month.

Frog Finds a Place—written by Sally Morgan and Ezekial Kwaymullina, illustrated by Dub Leffler, and published by Omnibus Books—follows the dream of an ambitious frog, who wants to fly to the moon and stars to make friends.

The book was chosen by students, families, and community members across 20 schools and centres across the City of Onkaparinga, after a council-run poll, which saw Frog Finds a Place secure more than half the 1000 votes!

Readett’s sculpture—to be unveiled in 2024—will become the seventeenth permanent artwork to be installed at Storybook Walk, which was created by the City of Onkaparinga in 2007 and funded in partnership with the Thalassa Parks and Gardens Trust.

Readett was also one of a group of artists who created a series of diverse public artworks, some involving community participation, through a council project in Old Reynella to help “beautify” the suburb.

Completed in several stages, from 2020 to 2023, the project began with Readett’s locomotive-themed mural on the Noarlunga Model Railroaders Inc. shed, depicting the trains that used to run along what is now the Coast to Vines Rail Trail to Willunga, just behind the shed.

The council also worked with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport to commission Adam Poole-Mottishaw and Corey Adami to create public art on retaining walls and Stobie poles alongside the department’s new drivers amenities building at the Reynella Bus Interchange.

The Reynella Neighbourhood Centre Board of Management received a grant to create a mural on the centre’s south-facing wall, with the centre also contributing $20,000 to the project, which included an anti-graffiti coating.

The mural, by Readett and Seb Humphreys, celebrates ‘the story of Reynella’ and depicts a historical timeline of the community, from pre-colonial Kaurna history, through to today, including the town’s agricultural history and the building’s previous life as a cinema.

The second phase of the beautification project included a mosaic on the amenities block of the historic Horse Changing Station, with the artwork reflecting the history of the site and its significance to the development of the town. The mosaic was created by artists Mike Tye and Wes Maselli, who worked closely with the changing station’s Working Gang to develop the imagery and reflect their vision.

Another artist, Danny Jarratt, was commissioned to help create a vibrant experience on Stobie poles along Old South Road, which involved a call-out via social media, the Reynella Neighbourhood Centre and letter drops to local residents for the community to get involved.

Jarratt ran a series of weekly community workshops at the centre, and fortnightly at Neporendi Aboriginal Community Centre, to help participants create the unique works, with the neighbourhood centre’s Men’s Hobby Group helping to prime the surfaces in preparation for the participants’ paintings. Neporendi’s Women’s Yarning Circle created works for Stobie poles near its centre too.

Neporendi was also the home of another new community-focused artwork, with the Neporendi Elders Group commissioning artist Shialee Brodie to work with Aunty Nellie Egan on a stunning mural at the centre.

The community was involved with the artwork’s creation at the NAIDOC March and Family Fun Day at Christies Beach in July, with participants placing their handprints on the underpainting. Shialee then created an overpainting with symbols representing the community the centre brings together.

The suite of Old Reynella works were officially celebrated at a launch at John Reynell Memorial Park on Friday 6 October. There, City of Onkaparinga Mayor Moira Were, paid tribute to the artists, groups and community members involved with the artworks’ creation, and to former elected members Alayna de Graaf and Sandra Brown, who advocated for the project and successfully bid for council funding to bring Old South Road to life.

The City of Onkaparinga has a diverse collection of public artworks for you to discover across the wider region, from large-scale murals to steel sculptural installations and intricate glass work.

You can explore the public art collection and see what pieces are near you by viewing the interactive Online Public Art map at council’s website.

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A mural on the side of the Reynella Neighbourhood Centre.