Three local artists are helping to transform the Katoomba Civic Centre as part of an exciting long-term vision to reactivate this precinct.

On 17 August, Dharug woman and local Blue Mountains artist, Leanne Tobin, installed the first work, entitled Yanema Waradah (Walk with Waratahs), an arresting array of art panels that relates to First Peoples creation and cultural stories. 

Leanne Tobin is of Irish, English and Aboriginal ancestry, descending from the Buruberong and Wumali clans of the Dharug, the traditional Aboriginal people of the Greater Sydney region. Leanne uses her art to tell local stories and to evoke an environmental conscience and respect towards the land and its original people. Her art practice seeks to encourage an open and honest dialogue about the past and to nurture, respect and care for Country, paying homage to our Old People and their legacy.

Artist's statement: Leanne Tobin

"This artwork acknowledges that we stand on the lands of the Dharug and Gundungurra people, the Traditional Custodians of this region. 

Image: Leanne Tobin with her artwork at Katoomba Civic Centre

"In the sky above, the Ancestors’ campfires can be seen, following ancient songlines above the landscape. Overhead, they watch us. 

"Three British explorers, more recent arrivals, are dwarfed by the impenetrable escarpments. Here, Country dominates. Beautiful waratahs proliferate in this place and symbolise our Blue Mountains community, tall and resilient, survivors of the ravages of bushfires, droughts and other forces of Nature. A significant Katoomba icon, The Three Sisters, reminds us of ancient stories; connecting us with our vibrant and timeless Aboriginal culture that continues to thrive here today."

Mandy Schoene Salter with orange3 - feature.jpg

Image: Mandy Schoene-Salter with her artwork at Katoomba Civic Centre

From 18 August, Mandy Schoene-Salter will paint a series of stunning murals over five columns on the lower level of the Civic Centre. This artwork, entitled Luminous Presence, features colourful botanical detail to beautify this urban space.

After leaving Sydney behind to live in the Blue Mountains, Mandy Schoene-Salter realised that nature can have a very positive impact on our lives.

Artist's statement: Mandy Schoene-Salter

"Being surrounded by nature helps us reduce anxiety and stress as well as increases our attention, creativity and ability to connect with other people.

"Unfortunately extinction rates are at their highest in Australia with the loss of approximately one per cent of threatened species each year. It is our responsibility to reinstall connection to the environment and art can play a key role in reminding us that we are part of the natural world.

"This public artwork celebrates the diversity and abundance of Australia’s wild flowers."

Later this year, another local artist, Kevina-Jo Smith, will drape her wonderful knitted installation over one wall of the Civic Centre. The artwork features up-cycled mixed media and was previously exhibited at Scenic World Sculpture Exhibition and Sculpture by the Sea.

The Katoomba Civic Centre upgrade is funded after Council finalised a $750,000 grant through the Building Better Regions Fund. Council will match this funding to a total of $1.5 million.

The project also includes landscaping, repainting, upgraded seating and improved security, and the establishment of a cowork space at the site of the old library. 

(Have your say on the cowork space at: yoursay.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/katoomba-cowork-space-survey)