The idea for the Living History Cartoon Room was sparked after seeing photos of Brisbane Museum’s Storytellers exhibition which showcases the ‘dark past’ of the capital city (crimes etc) in black and white line drawings within a 3D display.
Rachel Koster of Xcursion Arts decided that a scaled down version of this concept would be a fantastic way to bring the community together in an artistic collaboration to present quirky bite sized pieces of Gayndah’s history in a fun, interactive and engaging way.
With financial assistance from RADF funding, the project was pieced together from January to July 2021, working with year 4/5 from the State School, local museum staff and community members. Grade 6 of St Joseph’s also were involved creating a youthful view of Gayndah now and into the future with 12 paintings which sit alongside the room. School holiday workshops allowed children of all ages to decorate small trinket frames to hold photos from the past. The entire room was hand drawn onto foamcore sheeting and photo card as well as upcycled furniture. The line work was completed by Rachel with contributions from those listed on the back of the forth wall.
Local historian Cynthia Berthelsen was able to provide much detail about the story of Gayndah, and other local community members provided photos, anecdotes, information, voiceovers and facts. Many treasures were uncovered in the creation of the room including an original billboard from The Mango Tree movie (filmed in Gayndah in 1977) and photos taken at the time by movie extra Jessie Dolding.
Visitors are invited to open the drawers and look through the photos, browse the walls, read the loose information sheets and newspapers, turn over the hats (each featuring one of the small schools which were once in the Gayndah district), listen to the talking buttons, take selfies in the room, read the teatowel which corresponds with the photo wall, add memories to the West Side Story book, and leave comments or further history in the box provided.
Interesting things to discover in the display: a hoax fish story, long gone shopfronts and pubs, the first business in Gayndah, famous former locals, services and businesses which once operated in the town, and most surprising, the original site of Gayndah being based west of the current town.