Denman Creek Interpretative Signage Walk
Bond Crete, pigment and sealant.
For generations people have been making their mark, carving their name into a landmark for example, scratching their initials into a cement path before the concrete sets, memorialising an event or evidencing their existence in some way. These subversive actions have a long tradition in urban culture.
On the banks of Denman Creek over one thousand names are recorded on a pathway running seven hundered meters from the town centre to Hyde Park. The names are like a diary list, a snapshot, a visual impression of the community captured in time and embedded into the pathway.
“Once confronted with the list of names, running off into the distance, it is almost impossible to resist the temptation of reading all the names and searching for one’s own, and the viewer inevitably begins to wonder what this list is about.
The sheer number of names makes this piece extremely powerful, as one starts to realize that behind each name is another human being, another life, another individual carrying another personal history.”24
The Denman Creek Interpretative Signage Walk was created when Flanagan was the artist in residence in Denman in 2005. Flanagan set up a workspace in a room in the back of the public library where she developed the project and met with local people and community groups. Information was sent to every post-box in the region, requesting people’s signatures and birthdates for inclusion. Students from Denman Public and St Josephs Public Schools also talked with members of their community, drawing portraits and collecting signatures.
For Flanagan a town is one large and open studio, in which the materials and ideas for art can be found everywhere. She not only gathers inspiration from the flow of daily life but also presents her work in the public space of the street.
Memories and histories are visible in layers of urban art around many public spaces. They represent a way of claiming authority and identifying territory or ownership by mark making. In the case of the Denman Creek Interpretative Signage Walk when the locals walk the path, the names prompt discussions about people and past events and the connections between people and families are discussed, networks of operative action are visualised. “Did you know Joe got married to Patti?”, “Have you heard that the Wilsons have sold the family farm?”, “When Bob and I were kids we used to swim in the waterhole together…” etc, etc.
Both the development process and the final public artwork, stimulate the community. Through storytelling – the people of Denman are discussing the significance of their place. This activity fosters links between residents and facilitates the continuation of oral histories from one generation to the next. The development of which gives the current generation a renewed sense of connectedness with their place and promotes respect for the artwork and the park.
The research data collected is a valuable tool for the future commission of sculptures and artworks along the Denman Creek Sculpture Walk and is accessible to the public at Denman library.
Arts Upper Hunter
Denman Creek Committee
Muswellbrook Shire Council
Public Art and Alternative Tactics in Post-Acquisitive Society, Part One: Rural, Hellen Rose Schaumberger Labratorium, Surry Hills Australia. Dec 2008.
Permanent installation, The bank of Denman Creek between Turtle and Hyde Streets Launched December 2007.
NICHOLSON, B. (2007) Launch of the Denman Public Art Project. ArtsBark. P. 5.
(2007) The Bill Griffiths Memorial Pathway Official Opening. Denman News. 25 Oct, No. 417. ed. Muswellbrook, Front Cover.
FERGUSON, A. (2007) A Stroll Down Heritage Walk. Hunter Valley News. 24 Oct. ed. Muswellbrook. Pp. 1 – 2.
(2007) Denman’s Historic Walk through Time. Muswellbrook and Denman Visitors Guide. Muswellbrook. P. 9.
FERGUSON, A. (2006) Documenting Denman. The Muswellbrook Chronicle. 8th Dec, ed. Muswellbrook. P. 10.
HICKS, J. (2006) Denman Creek Public Art Project. Denman News. 9th Nov., Vol 8, Issue 370, ed. Front cover.
FERGUSON, A. (2006) Snapshot of the Community. Hunter Valley News. 1st Nov. ed. Muswellbrook, New South Wales. P. 4.
(2006) Denman Public Art Project. Denman News. Vol. 8, Issue 365 ed. Denman, Front cover.
Mike Prichard, Interview with Tricia Flanagan, Australian Broadcasting Commission, ABC Radio, Tuesday 21st November 7.30am
Craig Benjamin, Australian Broadcasting Commission ABC radio, Feature story played throughout December 2006.
Funded by the Commonwealth Regional Arts Fund, Australian Postgraduate Research Scholarship, with generous support from Wesley Uniting Employment, Paul Hedgecoe, Bernie Passlow, Andrew and Craig Singleton, Scott, Penelope Young, Michael Valantine, Justin Leck and The University of Newcastle.
24. Quoting Tricia Flanagan in the Press release for the event found in: HICKS, J, Launch of the Denman Creek Sculpture Walk, Arts Upper Hunter, Scone, Australia. Unpublished material, 2006.