Summary

Kinglake resident Ray Brasser (blacksmith) and Kinglake West/Pheasant Creek resident Glenn Barlow (woodworker) crafted this sculpture using recycled materials salvaged from Glenn's backyard and Ray's blacksmithing shed, which was destroyed during the 2009 Victorian bushfires. The tree-shaped sculpture has the words 'Thank You' burnt into its wooden base and was designed specifically to be publicly gifted to the people of Victoria at the 'Thank You Melbourne and Victoria' concert held at Federation Square, Melbourne, on 7 April 2010.

Organised by locals from the bushfire-affected Kinglake Ranges and surrounding communities (all directly or indirectly affected by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires), the Thank You Melbourne and Victoria concert saw musicians, poets and artists delivering 10 hours of music and storytelling in order to thank the people of Melbourne and Victoria for their moral support, donations and practical assistance in the wake of Black Saturday. The concert was organised at a grassroots level by a handful of locals from the Kinglake Ranges, on behalf of all communities affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires. It was supported by the Victorian State Government, the City of Melbourne, Federation Square and a range of small corporate donors.

The event was opened by Victorian Opposition leader Ted Baillieu, with an appearance from Chief Commissioner of the Victorian Police, Christine Nixon. During the only official part of day's proceedings, the 'Thank You Gift' was presented by its' makers 'on behalf of the Victorian Bushfire area' to the Premier of Victoria, John Brumby, who accepted it on behalf of the people of Victoria. It was transferred by the Premier to Museum Victoria in June 2010.

Physical Description

Metal and wood tree-shaped sculpture. The sculpture is supported on a rounded wooden (blackwood) base that has a gold, hand-engraved dedication plaque attached. The base of the tree is crafted from a piece of semi-burnt wood. Handcrafted metal leaves sprout from this base, which also supports a metal tree trunk with two metal, leafless branches.

Significance

This sculpture was created by residents of the Kinglake Ranges - a region that was severely affected by the Black Saturday fires. Not only is the sculpture a direct and permanent connection to the events of Black Saturday, but it is also an evocative symbol of hope, renewal and recovery. With Ray's blacksmithing shed in ruins, Ray and Glenn started to make the Thank You Gift in a temporary blacksmith shed that had no walls. During the process of working on this sculpture, however, the inspiration grew to rebuild the shed. The Thank You Gift not only represents the efforts of two bushfire-affected individuals to rebuild their own lives and surroundings, but also provides a tangible example of the ways in which bushfire-affected communities have worked together with art, music, poetry and storytelling to channel their grief and importantly, to tell stories that are difficult to convey with words.

The Thank You Gift also tells a story about those who were not directly bushfire-affected, but who donated moral support, donations and practical assistance in the wake of Black Saturday. While much of the public attention following Black Saturday was understandably focused on the bushfire-affected areas and associated stories of loss and destruction, the Thank You Melbourne and Victoria concert had a different message; it was focused on making sure that 'acts of generosity - and in particular the children that broke open their money boxes and gave their heartfelt savings - be recognised publicly.' As the physical manifestation of this public acknowledgement, the Thank You Gift is a powerful symbol of the importance of community support following a natural disaster, as well as the healing power of communal storytelling.

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