Trenthamites have come together to draw up a plan for a community art installation to celebrate their late friend Matthew Harding’s life.
Harding, who took his life on February 22 this year, was a renowned steel, stone and wood sculptor with an impressive body of work in both Australia and abroad.
In the wake of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), the community and Harding’s partner, Freya, are trying to raise awareness of the high rate of male suicide in regional areas by developing a plan to install two of the ‘jigs’ Harding used to create many of his award-winning sculptures, atop Trentham stone in Trent Creek Reserve, Trentham.
The installation will ensure Harding’s legacy is recognised not only around the globe, but also within the town where he lived and worked.
Community member Jacinta Burke, who wrote the application for Pick My Project, said the memorial would act as a permanent reminder for the family, including his four young children, that Harding was well respected.
“He was such a strong influence in the community. Even though he always had all this other stuff going on, he always did what he could to give back to the community,” she said.
“The issue with blokes is not talking about what’s bothering them. So be there for people, ask questions, whether it be for 10 seconds or 10 minutes.”
It is hoped the project will provide a contemplative, healing space for people to celebrate Harding’s life while grieving the loss.
David Bryant said the group was planning on adding an element of suicide prevention to the installation.
“We’ve got to look out for each other because the ones who are suffering are not going to ask for help,” he said.
According to Suicide Prevention Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for men and women between the ages of 15 and 44 years old.
The latest figures indicate that 2,866 Australians took their lives in 2016.
If this story has brought up any issues for you, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.