Twenty one years on, artists seek proper recognition

Wentworth Falls sculpture artist Anna Baird is looking forward to celebrating a milestone this year.

It's been 21 years since she and 15 other artists volunteered their time to create stunning seed pod sculptures at Wentworth Falls Lake depicting the Indigenous seed pods of plants growing in the area. And 21 years later seems as good a time as any to seek proper permanent recognition.

"The aim of the project was to increase the appreciation of native plants and public sculpture. The 16 sculptures depict native Indigenous seed pods of plants growing in the area. This was a huge project."

This year on behalf of all the artists, Ms Baird applied for a $10,000 City of the Arts Trust grant through council to have signage to show what plant seed pods they represent, as well as to acknowledge the artists.

Ms Baird was recently told it was unsuccessful but she and the other artists involved are currently in discussions with council to find another funding path.

"There has never been any information signage to educate visitors about the sculptures or why they are there, so I thought that since the sculptures are turning 21 it would be worth applying for a grant. It's the only sculpture park of its type within the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park."

With sandstone from Yellow Rock Quarry, the pods are a stunning educational feature around the lake, adding to its natural beauty. Pine leaf geebung, swamp grevillea, grass tree and cedar wattle are just some of the native pods celebrated. Some of the sculptures took five years to make. They are popular spots to sit, or climb on, in the park.

Ms Baird said the original project was made possible with assistance from council and Blue Mountains inaugural City of the Arts funding through the state government , the artists, who volunteered their time to create the sculptures for permanent exhibition, and many individual contributors.

The artists inscribed their own plaques at the bottom of the works with the name of the pod and artist, so children could do rubbings.

"However over time and with sediment and lack of maintenance these nameplates are partially or totally covered over."

She said there are currently only two lines on the council website about the sculpture park and no signage about the project.

The artists gathered last month to celebrate the anniversary quietly with family and friends as a major makeover begins in the park.

"It is something worth having for generations to come," she said.

Part of any funding would cover a main signage board with map and QR codes explaining the works. And the artists want a long-term management plan for the cleaning of the works.

Sculpture projects co-ordinator Gabriella Hegyes said education kits, a book and a video were produced. She was teaching at a community college at the time and enlisted many students including Anna Baird. She said the original $5000 grant was used to move the sandstone many times.

"We all did it for nothing, there was nothing left," Ms Hegyes said.

While waiting on signage, the group is hopeful the book and education kit will now be displayed.