Springwood High School student Ella, whose artwork features on the new water stations in Springwood

Springwood water refill stations feature artwork by local Indigenous student

08 Sep 2022

A turtle design by a local Indigenous student has been featured on two water refill stations installed along Macquarie Road, in the busy Springwood town centre. 

During COVID-19 lockdown, the Springwood Chamber of Commerce led a local schools’ competition to create an artwork based on the theme ‘water’, with the winning design to be incorporated into the panels of the water stations. 

Indigenous Springwood High School student Ella submitted the winning artwork.  Her design was endorsed by the Blue Mountains City Aboriginal Advisory Council, who were delighted to support a local young Indigenous art student. 

Ella hopes people using the water refill stations are engaged by her artwork.

“I want them to feel connected to the land and culture of Aboriginal people,” she said. “I want them to feel joy and happiness, and I am hoping to connect people from the mountains to my mob, Dunghutti (Djangadi) and Ku-ring-gai, who are the people of East and Central Coast. The sea turtle is part of our Dunghutti (Djangadi) Dreaming Stories.”

Ella was greatly supported and encouraged by Springwood High School staff including History Teacher and Aboriginal Education Officer Raelie Finneran and Aboriginal Education Officer Shaalee Stubbs.

Shaalee Stubbs said: "I hope that Ella will become confident in her own ability to produce artwork and continue to create beautiful pieces of work like this one… Opportunities like this give local students validation of their own artwork. Ella now feels a strong sense of pride in herself and culture whenever she visits Springwood."

Raelie Finneran said: “We are very excited for Ella and the opportunity she has been given. Her project started as an activity developed from materials that our Indigenous students were provided with during the extended Covid lockdown. We wanted the students to maintain their connection to culture and also to gain the benefits that artistic expression can provide, particularly during a stressful and isolating experience like a lockdown. 

“This project was a terrific opportunity for local students as it reflects the diversity of our community. It is particularly important for students of this age group as they are starting to consider their future and develop their values.”

The project was made possible by a $20,000 federal government Community Development Grant.

Ella expressed her sincere thanks to Ms. Finneran, Ms. Stubbs, Council, the Springwood Chamber of Commerce and Senator Marise Payne. “It makes me feel proud of my artwork, my culture and myself. I appreciate my artwork being displayed for everyone to enjoy. I feel thankful to Ms Fineran for valuing the time I put into my art and nominating me for this competition.”

The water refill stations are located at the entrance to Manners Park and on the forecourt of the Blue Mountains Theatre & Community Hub. Not only does this project help meet the community’s sustainability goals, but it is also a valuable emergency resource as the Hub forecourt is a designated Neighbourhood Safer Place in the event of a bushfire. 

Mayor, Councillor Mark Greenhill, said: “Council is always proud to collaborate on projects that support youth and cultural expression, as well as those that help achieve sustainability goals. This is a marvellous example of all those things! This project has been a successful collaboration between community, Council and the federal government."

Andrea Turner-Boys, President of the Springwood Chamber of Commerce, said: "The local businesses who make up the Chamber are delighted that in the endeavour to improve facilities in our local precinct, we were able to showcase the incredible talents of Ella and celebrate her Indigenous heritage."

Photo: Springwood High School student Ella, whose artwork features on the new water stations in Springwood.

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