The Strathewen Chooks
You may have noticed in the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, an article on these colourful chooks, produced by the folks in Strathewen. The full story about how making these colourful chickens has helped the community recover from the horror of the 2009 bushfires is below. If you would like to get hold of the pattern, check out Barbara's website,
Strathewen Chook Story - Comfort after trauma
After the Black Saturday firestorm, 29 people lost their lives in Strathewen. Residents were traumatised at the loss of friends, neighbours and the black destruction that surrounded them.
For three years after this tragedy, Barbara Joyce, an art therapist, organised a group of local the women to undertake a project for the children of Strathewen who had lost their school in the firestorm. Each Primary School age child was asked to colour in a drawing of a chook and then the women undertook the knitting of a life size chook. The unique drawings featured stripes, flames, dots and patterns, often in the colours of the recovering landscape. Barbara gave the children a questionnaire to fill in after 3 years and they all said that their chook slept with them in their bedroom.
This project brought children comfort, nurtured close friendships between the women, fostered connections within the community, assisted the recovery process and reminded everyone that they could laugh again. The chooks were an ice-breaker and a way for people to start connecting again.
The project was not contained to just children. Chook envy gripped the local community and proved quite contagious. People tracked down the pattern and wool, and all sorts of chooks started emerging. Many chooks were knitted for bereaved people to add a smile and comfort to their lives.
Barbara sees the hen as an ancient symbol of regeneration and rebirth and when the world turned black, the humble chook found its way into everyone’s heart.
( to view story on line go to: big stories small towns/Strathewen chook project or isiiad chook project)