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History of The Project

 

Initial Contact

In mid 2004 we were contacted, by Mr Allan Rogers, President of the Cunderdin Historical Society, enquiring if we would be interested in designing a concept for a commemorative artwork to Joan Walsh-Smith and Dick Mussared at The Rabbit Proof Fence Cunderdin 2005celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the construction of the world famous Rabbit Proof Fence. Cunderdin was the site of the depot from which the No 2. Fence was constructed, after the No. 1 Fence began to fail.

 

Meetings

After indicating our willingness to meet with the Cunderdin Historical Society, we received a letter dated the 5th October 2004 from Mrs. Kit Baird, Secretary, View Letter outlining the Society's thinking on a possible commemorative artwork and requesting a meeting with us. Responding positively to this, we travelled to Cunderdin and spent a most important seminal day, meeting and being briefed by members of the Cunderdin Historical Society and of course, experiencing the actual reality of the Fence itself at first hand. View Letter from Cunderdin Historical Committee member Dick Mussared regarding this visit.

View Letter

 

Concept Development and Endorsement

From this, we developed our concept, Concept Statement and returned to Cunderdin to present it to the Historic Society and Shire Council. Subsequently, support for the project was offered by Cunderdin Shire Council View Letter

 

Our ideas and designs was endorsed and accepted and we were requested by them to develop and cost our concept, especially our ideas of extending the project along the entire length of the fence with Cunderdin as the epicenter which was embrased enthusiastically.y. During this process we quickly realised that the design, based on a single 1500 mm hexagonal frame, inspired by the hexagonal weave of the real fence, could become the ubiquitous vehicle to carry images cut into steel, illustrating the history of the construction of the Fence. It would be perfect as a modular unit which could be assembled in a multitude of various combinations, thus allowing us to create a unique artwork for each and every one of the 34 Shires along the 3,250 km fence.

 

View Letter a and Letter b from us supporting these ideas and also a View Letter of Endorsement by Main Roads.

 

Longest Artwork in the world

This, of course, as we saw, held the potential to create what could become the longest artwork in the world. In a ‘lego- like' manner, our basic ‘hexagonal window’, could be assembled in an enormous range of different combinations and even extend into signage, graphics, etc., with the potential to develop into one of the World's most important adventure outback trails. We suggested that Cunderdin would be the epicenter for this project. We presented our extended vision to the Cunderdin Historical Society and again received an enthusiastic endorsement.

 

 

Slowly, over the following years, we developed and established a total image for the project which embraces a wide range of potential activities all celebrating the core of the enterprise: the enormous achievement of all the men, and the women who supported them, including all the communities along the way, who built the longest fence in the world.

 

Interactive: Website with Virtual Museum & Blog

This has now extended into this website which also encompasses a ‘virtual museum’ which invites the public and those families connected with the Rabbit Proof Fence to deposit memorabilia in the form of photographs and letters etc., to share with other members of this extraordinarily scattered group along the length of the Fence. We also have set up a virtual museum 'feedback page' and a ‘blog’ to help connect people even further by the wonderful interactive potential of the electronic media. This would encompass community involvement at all levels, including schools, societies, such as Rotary, Lions etc, but also individuals in their own homes who simply want to connect with the Rabbit Proof Fence ‘family’.

 

Community-based project

As the artists and designers of this potentially vast, community-based project we feel extremely honoured and ultimately humbled by the depth of commitment, effort and sheer determination of all those who built the Rabbit Proof Fence. We are determined, through our artwork, that they and their stories will not be forgotten.

 

Future Development

We envisage that ultimately all 34 Shires along the 3250 km length of the fence would become partners in celebrating visually this extraordinary feat by endorsing the concept of creating the longest Commemorative Artwork Project in the World.

 

Charles Smith &
Joan Walsh-Smith

20th November 2010