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Canberra Today 9°/10° | Monday, May 16, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Yellow House festival to help conserve Connee’s sculptures

Two of Connee-Colleen’s sculptures, John John and Brownie.

TO honour the memory of one of the town’s most famous identities, the late artist-activist Connee-Colleen Cameron, Queanbeyan Hive – The Yellow House – is turning on a mini fundraising festival this weekend.

Armed with a Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council cultural grant of $3000, Hive owner Helen Ferguson has banded together with sympathetic artists to ensure the conservation of three life-size sculptures of Queanbeyanites.

Just before  Connee-Colleen’s  unexpected death in mid-December, The Hive had already held a small fundraising event to assist in saving the “ciment fondu” artworks now in serious danger of corroding from the inside.

Ferguson says conservation costs will amount to $7500, so she’s set up a donation page in the hope of matching the council funding.

Serendipitously, the Queanbeyan Palerang Heritage Festival, April 9-May 14, offers the opportunity of stimulating community interest in and curiosity about the story of one of the town’s genuinely larger-than-life characters, one who saved many buildings from oblivion in her time.

Connee’s three sculptures, each weighing about 80 kilograms, are of former residents at Queanbeyan‘s George Forbes House.

The late Connee-Colleen in her heyday, working on the facade of the old Queanbeyan Hospital.

The three ciment fondu sculptures in urgent need of conservation are of nursing sister “Dorothy [“Dos”] Noone, “John John” John Smith (1908-1984) and “Brownie”, Aileen Brown, whose sculpture has an arm missing.

Each of the residents came to life for Connee and while recreating three-dimensional images in ciment fondu and bronze, she wrote eloquently about their personalities and their quirks.

“My sculptures are about individuals. I feel they capture the uniqueness of the Australian identity as well as conditions common to humanity,” she would say.

Similar bronze sculptures by Connee are currently installed in Rusten House Arts Centre in Collett Street, Queanbeyan.

Ferguson has put together a day of barbecue, drinks at the bar and heritage materials.

The highlight will be a talk by Kim Morris, the director of Art & Archival, a private conservation business located in Queanbeyan, who will outline the likely issues in conserving the sculptures.

Naturally, the artworks themselves will be  on display, inviting visitors to ask who they were, how they got to The Hive and where might they be on display next.

As well, with the assistance of the Queanbeyan History Museum and Ngambri elder, Matilda House, there will be exhibits of historical artefacts and pictures, a display of Auntie Matilda‘s possum cloak, Instagram projections by “Cool Queanbeyan” (@coolqueanbeyan) and Connee’s farewell video.

Heritage in the Hive Fundraiser, Queanbeyan Hive, 274 Crawford Street Queanbeyan, noon-4pm, Saturday, April 9. All welcome. Gold coin entry. Donations  here .


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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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