Foothills Art Trail: A treasure hunt for the mind and body

‘In My Neighbourhood’ – Shirley Dougan

In these times of recurring lockdowns, homes and businesses everywhere have learnt to adapt and re-adapt as and when required. Periods of isolation, stretches of quiet time and ‘idiot box’ fatigue have led many to turn to their own creative devices. Turning to YouTube for some Bob Ross inspiration or unearthing that long forgotten cookbook from the bottom of a drawer, some have (re)discovered hidden talents. Creativity in this way continues to enrich our lives, even more so during these limited circumstances. 

Speaking of hidden talents, the Hut Gallery has planted selections of their artists’ works at various locations across Ferntree Gully Village. These hidden gems are mapped out along the Foothills Art Trail, some hiding in plain sight, waiting for the discerning eye to seek them out. It’s a treasure hunt of sorts, to give walkers and wanderers a little uplift.

A simple trail map can be accessed from the Hut Gallery website to use as a guide, along with an index of all the artworks placed along this trail. While it’s possible to click on an individual artwork to find its location from the website, why resort to this tedious method and miss out on the element of surprise?    

I set off in earnest, leaving it to chance to see what I could find along the familiar street facades. Spotting the first artwork displayed behind a shop window had me feeling somewhat accomplished. It’s not unlike receiving a small surge of dopamine that leaves you satisfied for ticking off a task. That’s on top of the dose of mood enhancing endorphins from the walking exercise. This was turning out to be an art trail for the mind and body. 

Not all pieces are displayed near shop windows, necessitating a venture inside. After all, the Foothills Art Trail is intended to bring art and community together. It wasn’t long before I had a cup of hot chocolate in hand and set off on the trail again. The prevailing lockdown prevented entry into some shops, leaving me lingering about closed doors, peering inside shop windows. Masked up and rugged up tip-to-toe on a cold morning, I must have made a dubious sight to a casual observer.  

I spotted quite a number of pieces, 18 to be exact (it helps that there are more than one in a given location). Native fauna and flora feature heavily across the selections including the fairy wren, echidna and the neighbourhood magpie. Brightening up a quiet stretch of shops, Shirley Dougan’s ‘In My Neighbourhood’ came as a startling surprise; a profusion of nature’s hues sweeps the length of canvas almost camouflaging its dainty inhabitants. Wendy Lawrence’s ‘Warbling’ is one of the easiest to spot displayed behind a street-facing window. A portrait of a magpie, its dark plumage stands prominent against a deep red background. And I won’t give away where these are as that would simply spoil the fun. 

Tired of the same old routine walk? Take the art trail and see how many you can spot. The art trail will remain in the Gully Village until December. Visit the Hut Gallery website for more information on the trail and the artists. You can also read more in our article here.

Prasadini Nanayakkara

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