Memorable conclusion

The final instalment in Red Earth Ecology’s Leeton Memories project brings together two prominent local women

Cynthia Arel has interpreted the recollections of Julie Maytom in a window display that captures elements from her childhood in Stanbridge and Parkview, as well as her passion for Fivebough Wetlands.

“My interests now include designing for theatre so I’m treating the display as a small set,” said Mrs Arel.

“A lot of what I’ve included are scenes from nature and the social aspects that unite people.

“I made notes and focused on her early childhood, particularly the red dirt and when she talked about Parkview, like climbing trees in the scrubby setting prior to the School being built.”

Viewers will be able to listen to Julie’s memories via audio-streaming linked in the QR code shown in the window of the Leeton Community Op Shop.

“I thought I’d be working on it earlier this year, but I’m glad this exhibition came after a history unit that I recently completed.

“Memory is not exactly how it happened, so I’m layering old and new. I find it interesting to think how memory works, the way things that mightn’t have been a great experience become lessons of resilience over time.

“Originally my intention was to use chronological layers, but that’s not how memory works. Every time you revisit that memory, it changes a bit.”

The interview with Julie was conducted by Kathy Tenison of Storymaster Audio and collected details from throughout her life, including the Carlton Cafe that was next door to the current display and significant as the location where she met Paul Maytom.

The Leeton Memories project was developed by Red Earth Ecology as a way of bringing colour to windows on the main street and to prompt discussion of change.

“We’re stoked that Cynthia joined in and are very grateful to the team at the Op Shop for the chance to use their location and its visibility within town,” said Jason Richardson.

“This project has been a wonderful way to get to know people, as well as share some history of the region.

There’s been a lot of support but I am particularly grateful for our host, the Leeton Community Op Shop, and great response from the community too.”

One surprise was learning that the artist and subject already have a connection.

“Julie and I are actually related,” revealed Mrs Arel. “Her dad and my grandmother were cousins and she went to school with my aunty, so the places she talks about are those I’ve heard about or visited.

The reframing of the familiar in new ways has always been central to the appeal of looking at art, which can also build empathy by letting viewers see through the eyes of another.

“It’s an opportunity to think about things from a different angle and to view things from a perspective other than my own, ” agreed Mrs Arel.

The project is also a platform to demonstrate a spectrum of creative activity in the Shire.

“It’s important to present the variety of art as a way of showing what can be done, especially for younger people. People will say what they like or not, but it’s helpful to broaden their view.”

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