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Armidale project aims to help save koalas — by building one!

Sunday, 5 Mar
2:00 pmto3:30 pm

Concern is now widespread that land-clearing, urban development and more frequent bushfires are having a devastating effect on populations of our cuddly, national icon – but a project in Armidale is developing a novel idea to draw attention to its plight and how we can address the problems.

Imagine a single image in which a larger-than-life koala is struggling against threats such as feral dogs, bushfires, chainsaws and bulldozers all at once: this would help kids and adults alike grasp the plight of the koala, as well as other native animals.

While it might sound big and difficult, this is the ambitious goal of a community art project involving a team of volunteers working with effigy artist Neil Turner, who is currently in Armidale from England, to create a 5 metre-tall koala and a tableau that helps people instantly to visualise the threats. Mr Turner and the project will be available and on show at a ‘Meet the Artist’ event on 5 March (details below).

Building the Koala Tableau – Liz Ellis and Maurice Anker at front, the artist Neil Turner on ladder.

The project is funded by a grant from Renew Armidale, a sub-group of Armidale Live, as well as in-kind support from local businesses, Sustainable Living Armidale (SLA) and arts organisations. It has been designed to promote community involvement in the Armidale Mall and to be offered to community organisations to use with their own projects. SLA, in conjunction with the Northern Tablelands Koala Partnership Project (NTKPP), are using the tableau to provide education on the plight of koala.

The koala tableau will be introduced as a centrepiece of the Armidale Autumn Festival Parade on 1 April this year. After completing the parade journey ending at Civic Park, it will remain there during the festival entertainment and market. Stalls from SLA (Climate Action and Wildlife Habitat groups), NTKPP, NPA, and Northern Tablelands Wildlife Carers will together form a related interactive education event on the day.

Armidale Secondary College’s (ASC) Year 10 drama troupe “Out of the Zone” will also create a performance with the koala tableau, planned to be animated by everything from bushfire ‘smoke’ to chainsaw sparks, sound effects and laser lights. There will also be an audience participation disco dance to the Bee Gees song ‘Stayin’ alive’ by the ‘Bear Gees’ and Koala masked dancers.

To bring this to fruition, a regular team of volunteers will be working over the next 5 weeks on the construction of the 3-D printed plywood and wire framing in a shed space provided by local business, Ducats. High school students and community members are invited to participate, creating the ‘skin’ with packing tape and paper maché during construction in Ducat’s shed.

After the Autumn Festival and parade day the koala tableau will have a presence in the Armidale Mall in April and then be housed at the Armidale Tree Group. It is planned for it to be transported to ASC for a Term 2 showcase in May.

‘Meet the Artist and Koala Tableau Project’: This event will take place at Ducat’s Shed, 267-273 Mann Street,  on Sunday March 5th.  Community members can arrive at any time between 2:00pm and 3:30pm and be given a short tour and introduction to the KT Project, with the opportunity to get involved. Light refreshments will be available. For further details please call Garry on {mobile prefix oh for}18 249 912.

The attached map shows you how to find the building shed.  Go to the industrial area along Mann Street travelling west.  Find the colourful Brickfields chimney at the corner of Mann and Brickfield Avenue, turn right into the vacant lot and go as deep as you can.


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