• Greensborough War Memorial Park is host to a new series of carved cypress sculptures. Carved by master carver Hikaru Kodama and local artist, Leigh Conkie, these sculptures stand as a testament to the strength and resilience of our service men and women.

    The new sculptures have been designed by local artists in consultation with war veterans and the local community. A second series of sculptures for the Park are currently underway.

In 2003, chainsaw sculptor Leigh Conkie crafted 12 sculptures from the stumps of cypress trees. These works of art, inspired by wartime characters, were beloved by the community. As objects of beauty and symbolism, they provided a gathering place; a place of quiet reflection. Over the years, the elements were not kind to them and they were removed in 2017 and farewelled in a ceremonial fire.

The Homefront Project began with extensive community consultation, including writing workshops for local war veterans to tell their stories of war and homecoming. These discussions and stories formed a base for the designs for new sculptures. In April 2018, five new sculptures were unveiled in Greensborough War Memorial Park. Over the next few months, the final sculptures will be created and are due to be in place by November 2018.

As part of the Homefront Project, we are collecting local stories of war and homecoming to be archived on this website. If you have a story or photographs that you think are of local interest, please share them with us.

If you would like to follow the progress of the new sculptures, follow us on Facebook and check our Blog page.

THE ARTISTS

LEIGH

CONKIE

CHAINSAW CARVER

Leigh has always been an artist — painting and drawing from an early age. Leigh undertook studies in sculpture including design and bronze casting, but it was some time before he discovered the chainsaw as a tool for sculpting. At age 22, when asked to remove a fallen tree struck by lightning, Leigh was inspired to carve it into a human face and his love of chainsaw carving began. In 2013, he founded the Australian Chainsaw Carving Championships. His obsession with sculpture led him on a study tour of Japan where the work of Japanese master carvers informed his artistic endeavours.

HIKARU

KODAMA

CHAINSAW CARVER

Hikaru Kodama is an award-winning Japanese chainsaw artist. His intricate works draw the attention of crowds at many chainsaw-carving championships around the world including those in Australia, USA, Poland, United Kingdom and Germany.
When not travelling the world, Hikaru works for the Shimokawa Forestry Union. He has worked in partnership with local artist Leigh Conkie for many years.

ROLAND

DANNENHAUER

BLACKSMITH

Roland is a blacksmith with the Australian Blacksmiths Association, Victoria. He was one of the Lead Blacksmiths and a welder for the Black Saturday Tree Project — which culminated in the creation of a 10 metre high stainless steel and copper gum tree. He has produced forged stainless steel poppies for ANZAC park in Hurstbridge and the Avenue of Honour in Eltham, and sent forged iron roses to Norway for a memorial commemorating the shootings on Utøya Island. When not swinging a hammer, he works as heritage plasterer.

AMANDA

GIBSON

DESIGNER

Amanda is a designer and Creative Director. She has worked as the Project Manager of the Black Saturday Tree Project bringing together blacksmiths on three continents to produce a spectacular metal gum tree in response to the Black Saturday bushfires. She has designed public sculpture for Mernda and Kinglake West, sculptural seating in Strathewen and has spoken at international Arts and Community conferences about her work. Amanda also works on branding of local events such as the Eltham Jazz Food & Wine Festival and Open Cellars of Nillumbik and is one of the creative minds behind the Cube Z shipping container gallery in Diamond Creek.

MIKE

WILKINS

FILMMAKER

Mike is an independent video producer and director of photography with an extensive post production background.

Since late 2005 his company 2 Road Films has produced over 800 videos including pieces for Tourism Australia, ex-USA Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, Television Networks, Universities, Government Departments and Australia’s largest banks.

His aerial work filming from planes, helicopters and drones takes him to remote corners of the world and to outback Australia.

Filming our local war veterans and the creation of the Homefront sculptures has been one of his favourite projects to date.

NEIL

GRANT

WRITER

Neil Grant is a local author, his published work includes; The Ink Bridge (Allen & Unwin 2012), From Kinglake to Kabul (Allen & Unwin 2011), Indo Dreaming (Allen & Unwin 2005) and Rhino Chasers (Allen & Unwin 2002).

He has presented at two Melbourne Writers Festivals and worked with many schools and groups on writing projects.

His writing has seen him climbing volcanoes in Indonesia and travelling the dusty back roads of Afghanistan.
Neil has worked with local war veterans on the telling of their stories for the Homefront Sculpture Project.

PARTNERS

Austin Health comprises the Austin Hospital, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre. The organisation operates 980 beds across acute, sub-acute and mental health with an annual operating budget of more than $700 million. It is also an internationally recognised leader in clinical teaching and training, affiliated with eight universities. In addition, it is the largest Victorian provider of training for specialist physicians and surgeons.

The Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital has a proud history of caring for Veterans and War Widows. Originally built in 1941, the hospital became part of Austin Health in 1995. Today the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital continues to treat Veterans and War Widows and also provides services to the wider community including, day surgery, palliative care, mental health services, aged care, and outpatient services such as radiotherapy, nuclear medicine, radiation oncology and radiology.

http://www.austin.org.au/heidelberg-repatriation-hospital

Beginning in Alex Spence’s house in Briar Hill in 1929, the first charter was issued to Greensborough RSL Sub-Branch by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers & Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in 1931. After World War 2, the Sub-Branch sent letters to all returned service men as part of a recruitment drive. In 1952, two blocks of land were purchased, for the grand sum of 402 pounds each, as a space to build permanent meeting rooms. This remains the current site to this day.

The initial meeting room was an Nissan Army Hut which was demolished in the early 1960’s to make way for a new concrete block and cement sheet building. In 1961 this structure was moved to the back of the block and the hall was built by the members; this was officially opened by Gus Lines, OBE, in 1962.

In 2008 the Club embarked on the largest renovation in its long history. A sum of $4.2 million was spent to make it one of the largest Sub-Branches in Victoria. The club today is currently experiencing a large increase in patronage and membership from local surrounding areas.

http://rsl-greensborough.com/our-community/

Banyule City Council supports the thriving arts and cultural scene for which the city is renowned. They create inspiring, relevant and entertaining arts experiences for all, collaborating with the Banyule community to promote the value of arts and culture, and enrich the city.

There are numerous community arts programs throughout the municipality, supporting the preservation and celebration of our city’s diverse heritage and cultures. Community events include Twilight Sounds, Kids Arty Farty Festival, Malahang Festival, Carols by Candlelight and Boulevard Lights. The Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe is a dedicated cultural hub, supporting thought provoking and high quality exhibitions. The council also manages Banyule’s public art program, the Banyule Art Collection and ‘Pinpoint’ – our local artist register and development network.

The Banyule Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee (BACAC) plays an active and strategic role in setting priorities for arts and culture in Banyule. It operates a number of Working Groups which contribute to planning and management of the arts and culture program.

https://www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Arts-and-Events