Creative Recovery: After Bushfire

Hidden Treasures

Looking for the positive


“It got me out of my overloaded head and gave me a sense of satisfaction”

At the beginning of 2021 Fabrik partnered with WellbeingSA and the DreamBIG Children’s Festival, embarking on an exploration of all that is good in Lobethal.

While acknowledging that recovery was still a very real experience for many people, Fabrik had observed that the language in the community was turning to resilience, with a desire to focus on strengths and the possibility of a positive future. With this in mind, the Hidden Treasures project used creative practice to facilitate the celebration of things community members valued about their town, as well as stimulating discussion about the future.

“The workshop centred me and I could focus on the moment.”

Community collaboration was key in this process, and the first stage of the project involved working with both primary schools in Lobethal. Artist Claire Wildish worked with every year level in both schools to create artworks that reflected the children’s favourite places and their dreams for Lobethal’s future. Claire also worked with community elders at the Senior Citizens Club and the retirement village, creating a large scale fabric map that showed treasured memories of Lobethal.

“It’s great to know our past is valued.”

Community workshops, held by artists Deb Twining and Sue Garrard, and supported by wellbeing facilitator Kate McEwen, were offered to community members of all ages. One workshop created merit badges, celebrating personal strengths using repurposed silver teaspoons. Another incorporated tiny personal treasures into hand crafted kaleidoscopes, offering a view of life through a positive lens.

“I don’t feel so alone and my creativity is coming back.”

All aspects from the project were exhibited during the DreamBIG Children’s Festival with visitors invited to contribute their thoughts about Lobethal’s future.

The project culminated in a collaboration with the Lobethal Community Association, bringing together community leaders to see the comments and creative expressions of the community. In a session facilitated by Trish Hansen from Urban Mind Studio, the participants were guided through a process of reflection and an exploration of questions that might guide the town’s future. Participants were encouraged to take these questions back to their respective groups and in this way, ensure the hopes and dreams of the community would be realised in their work.

“My organisation has been focusing on immediate change after the fire. These questions will help us think about the longer term.”