A striking sculpture called “Forgotten,” made from car parts, was unveiled today (Thursday) by Yass Valley deputy mayor Kim Turner on the Barton Highway as a permanent roadside memorial to the many people killed on the region’s roads.
It was created by Yass sculptor Melanie Lyons in 2004 while she was while doing her Masters at the ANU School of Art & Design, in memory of her school friend, apprentice chef Geordie Whitfield, who was killed in a car accident in 2002.
A series of sculptures on the same theme, also made from car parts, “Forgotten” is a bunch of five ‘flowers,’ created from the hoods and doors of wrecked cars that seem to be wilting and dying after being left as a marker at a car accident. Deputy mayor Turner said it had cost the council less than $5000.
The work was exhibited at the inaugural “Sculpture in the Paddock” at Cooma Cottage and was later purchased by Yass Valley Council, who contracted local artist Al Phemister to install the sculpture on the Barton Highway, with the help of Lyons and other contractors.
Phemister, one of leading members of YassArts, told “CityNews” that after Whitfield’s death, his mother Julie and the Yass community had raised funds to improve the cooking/kitchen facilities at Yass High School, so that students could benefit in regards to work opportunities. The kitchen is now known as “Geordie’s kitchen.”
Was at the time of Whitfield’s death, a member of the NSW Fire Brigade, stationed in Yass and with his friend Steve “Buggo” Bugden, removed the body from the car at the scene of the accident. Mr Bugden has recently left the fire brigade, and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of attending car accidents.
Phemister said:“I think that these facts show the far-reaching effects from one simple act… it has had knock-on effects in our local community that will last long into the future.”
“We are all excited by the Yass Council installing this sculpture, and hope that it will be the source of many discussions and hope into the future,” Phemister added, “We also hope that it causes a change in attitudes.”
One thing is certain, Whitfield and his zest for life will not be ‘forgotten.
“Forgotten” can be viewed on the Barton Highway, near Capricorn Park at Jeir Creek rest area.