Sculptor Issa Ouattara is donating his latest sculpture, titled “Love In All Its Diversity” to help to raise funds for the Daylesford State Emergency Services Unit through ChillOut Festival’s long lunch event.
Mr Ouattara was born on the Côté d'Ivoire in West Africa.
It was there that he met his Australian wife, Monica, who was leading a HIV prevention and care program for the Centre for Disease Control.
Mr Ouattara had a difficult start in life, having lived through child labour, war and poverty.
But it is these experiences that have shaped his passion for social justice, which is expressed through many of his sculptures.
Mr Ouattara and his wife, along with their girls Angela, eight, and Sophie, six, moved to Franklinford after immigrating to Australia in 2011.
They live in the Franklinford historic church, on the grounds of which Mr Ouattara exhibits his sculptures.
Mr Ouattara’s work draws on his West African cultural and artistic heritage.
He predominantly creates sculpture by hand-crafting steel and occasionally integrating wood and glass.
“This is where I have made my home and sculpture park. Franklinford is so rich with history and stories, it has a small but very strong spirited community.
“I also consider Daylesford and as far as Castlemaine my local community. They have been really great as my main customer base but most of all, as the inspiration for my sculptures,” he said.
Being a part of the community is important to him.
“This is what makes me happiest, working in my little studio, in my little church, doing what I love, making sculptures, for my local community and friends.
“I am happy to donate my time and work in the form of sculpture as I like the idea of people living and working together to help each other where they can.”
This is not the first time that Mr Ouattara has donated a sculpture to the community.
“I want to give back to my good friends, whether it be a Christmas tree sculpture for Daylesford Town Centre, or the special sculpture I have made to donate to my friends at ChillOut Festival.
“It is good to give back to the community where I can,” he said.
On why he chose to become involved with ChillOut Festival, Mr Ouattara said he enjoys the freedom, colour and diversity which is celebrated during ChillOut Festival.
He said an LGBTIQ+ festival like ChillOut could never happen in West Africa, where people still have to hide their sexuality for fear of persecution and violence.
ChillOut Festival’s Lavish Lunch will be a sophisticated three course fine dining experience at the historic Edwardian Heritage dining room at Bellinzona Grange in Hepburn Springs.
The afternoon will include entertainment from Aurora MacKrill.
The event will include an auction of items donated by regional businesses, with this year’s proceeds going to the Daylesford SES.