The Wagstaffe Art Project began in early 2012. Long time Association member, Anne Jackson, suggested placing some painted poles in the circular garden in Wagstaffe Square to complement the then flourishing pine tree. After much discussion it was decided to progress the idea but to locate the poles near the wharf as a welcome to Wagstaffe and the area. Anne had previously seen such painted poles in other locations and felt that they would enhance our area.
Fortunately, Ausgrid was installing new electricity poles and wires at the time and members of the Committee felt that some of the old poles might just do the trick. The very clever negotiating skills of our Co-president at the time, Peta Colebatch, resulted in five of the old poles being delivered by Ausgrid to the grassy area behind the hall.
Onto the stage at this time came our local Master woodturner and carver, Terry Baker and local artist Jean Scott. Terry and Jean offered to lead the project, helping community members to carve and/or paint the poles. Gosford Council was approached and approval was given for the project. The council of course will ensure that the poles are placed where no damage is done to underground services.
Then the heavy lifting! Ausgrid had delivered the poles to a point between the two picnic tables behind the hall – we needed to have the poles near the dividing fence and behind the toilet block and in a position raised off the ground for carving. Thanks to very clever ‘engineering’ skills of our other Co-president, Ian Bull and the help of Terry, Michael, Tom, other WTKCA members and various ‘passers-by’, the feat was achieved and the poles were ready for carving.
All this happened in mid 2012 and come October the carving was well underway. A happy band of up to 10 carvers chiselled away on 3 poles. You could see lizards, an echidna, flowers, possums etc, at various stages, appearing out of the timber.
Finally, in 2013 the three finished spirit poles were completed and with the help of GCC and a fair amount of money from the Association they were erected on the grassy slope, looking out to Brisbane Water near the wharf. Some time later a ceremony was held to mark the erection of the poles. This was a happy occasion attended by many local residents. It included a very moving smoking ceremony conducted by a local aboriginal man.
Following this the carvers continued carving on a fourth pole. This one is being carved to honour local firemen who fought the fire which occurred in the area in October 2012. It is expected that it will be finished soon (March 2014) and hopefully, if approved by council, erected on the other side of the approach from Wagstaffe Wharf.
Following that, the carvers are hoping to put their efforts into carving some unusual park furniture – table tops, benches etc for the park. And after that, who knows?
As of March 2014, several carvers have unfortunately had to leave the team because of personal or family illnesses.