Leeton Memories add colour to history

Jo Roberts with Sam the Corella and Joe Errey under a treeA visually-arresting and innovative approach to local history will debut in Leeton this March.

Local artist Jo Roberts has a display in the windows of the Leeton Community Op Shop that is based on the memories of longtime resident Joe Errey.

This is the first of a series of window displays that, over coming months, will interpret observations from elders about their lives in our town and bring into focus changes in the local landscape.

“This project began with a conversation I had with Joe Errey,” said Jo Roberts.

“We’re both keen observers of birds and I was enthralled by his descriptions of flocks of birds, particularly those that are now rarer to see over our town.”

Joe’s memories include seeing flocks of budgerigars, as well as identifying a River Red Gum planted in 1913 by his grandfather at their former farm.

This towering giant sits a little way off Vance Road and marks the beginning of the Errey family’s connection to Leeton after they settled on the land.

“I was also amazed to learn that Joe’s pet corella is more than 50 years old, which seems mind-blowing when you consider how common these birds are in our region,” said Ms Roberts.

The bird, named Sam, can often be heard calling out to those passing by Joe’s home on Brady Way.

The Leeton Memories project has employed Kathy Tenison of Storymaster Audio to record interviews that capture local history from the perspectives of older residents, then Red Earth Ecology offered these conversations to local artists for interpretation as visual displays.

“Our aim is to stir discussion about changes in the local landscape by reflecting on what people have seen in their own lifetimes,” said project coordinator Jason Richardson.

“It’s exciting to see how those memories resonate with our collaborators, such as the artists involved and through listening to the recordings with Leeton writers at Riverina Writing House.”

The project brings an intergenerational approach to interpreting recent history of the region in various media.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these residents through hearing about their lives and hope that everyone in the community will take the time to listen, while looking over the dynamic displays during the next few months,” said Mr Richardson.

A link to hear Joe’s memories online will be seen in the form of a QR code in the window display, allowing viewers to hear his observations while looking over Jo’s interpretation in the Leeton Community Op Shop windows during March.

(Or click on this link https://soundcloud.com/red-earth-ecology/joe-erreys-leeton-memories)

And, if you listen carefully, you can hear Sam the corella calling in the background.

Red Earth Ecology has been actively fostering connections with the Riverina landscape for around a decade through a range of activities, see ree.org.au for more.

Leeton Memories is supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.