Tree chimes in harmony

Jasmine Grace with the Harmony Tree, adorned with bells. 172521

By Casey Neill

Seven hundred gold-coloured bells of different sizes chime in harmony as a strong breeze blows through Douglas Street, Noble Park.
The installation by artist Jasmine Grace produces a light shimmering sound with an almost-magical quality, and symbolises the suburbs different cultures coming together as one community.
“I came up with the concept of the Harmony Tree and wanted to find an area that was quite multicultural,” she said.
“I’m studying a master of public art at the moment and one of my lecturers suggested Greater Dandenong council to me.”
Ms Grace is at RMIT University, which has a decade-long association with the council.
“Quite a number of high-profile artists have started their careers with Greater Dandenong,” the council’s Grissel Walmaggia said.
“It’s good practical experience in working in the public realm. That often leads to other projects and commissions.”
The bells were made in India and are different shapes and sizes.
“That’s one of the things that was important to me – making sure they make different sounds to symbolise how having the uniqueness of the different sounds and the diversity of different sounds, you can create harmony through diversity,” Ms Grave said.
“I, basically, hired a ladder and I spent two days up in the tree installing, tying them onto the tree with fishing wire.”
Ms Walmaggia said: “Jasmine did quite a bit of research in the lead up to the installation and discussed with an arborist about the most appropriate way to tie the bells to the tree so they wouldn’t damage or undermine the tree.”
The crepe myrtles are deciduous and will change with the seasons.
“It’s a temporary work. I wanted to see how the sounds respond in different seasons, how the bells respond and how the community responds to it in different seasons as well,” Ms Grace said.
“When I was installing a lot of people were wondering if the bells were for Christmas.”
The gold-coloured bells shimmer in the sunlight and catch the eye.
“Someone made a comment that they look quite natural in the tree. They look like gumnuts, almost,” Ms Grace said.
“I want it to serve as an interruption to the business of their lives and help people to disengage from that and just be present in the moment by actively listening to the bells.
“I also really wanted to create a gathering place that was peaceful for people, but also I want it to be symbolic of just encouraging people to embrace the diversity of cultures within the community.
“I guess everyone will take different meanings away from it.”
The bells will be on the trees until April.
“I’ll be checking back in each season to see how they’re doing,” Ms Grace said.
She’ll be recording observations as well taking in how people respond to the work.
“There’s an online survey that we would love people to fill out,” she said.
Visit www.greaterdandenong.com/harmonytree to get involved.

Look through the branches of the Harmony Tree.

 

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