Circus Train - Slow Down sculpture
Public Art: Circus Train - Slow Down sculpture
Sculptors: © Alex Mickle and Nicole Mickle
Boilermakers: Craig Bayliss and Rob Blythe
Signage : Sonya Dye and Nicole Mickle
Description: The Circus Train sculpture is a result
of a community cultural development project called Bridging the Gap, involving former railway workers and people
with disabilities sharing their experiences. The steel, wood and glass sculpture combines several themes including
progress, compassion and celebration of life. If you look closely you will discover a pair of plaster cast
hands behind a small glass window. Riveted onto a steel drum are plates with thoughts and memories from former
railway workers and people with disabilities.
Date Unveiled: Unveiled Monday the 2nd August,
Location: The Circus Train - Slow Down sculpture can
be found on the Leschenault Inlet foreshore near the Bunbury Rowing Club on Estuary Drive, Bunbury.
"The train would arrive after midnight ....What a massive task the circus folk had to unload ...the Big
Top and all the animals were carried on the wheeled wagons and this job of unloading and transport was
moved by the twelve or so elephants who ..... manoeuvred the wagons onto the platform .... outside the
station .... the units were linked together for transport to the Queens Garden site .... By early
morning the main tent was erected .... As for us youngsters, it was off home, tired but excited by al
we had witnesed. An hour or so sleep, a quick breakfast and then off to school to reount our
adventures." 1938/39 Circus Train Ray Repacholi
THE RAILWAY AND THE PEOPLE OF BUNBURY
(From a report by project researcher, Helen Seiver)
'Historically the railway was central to nearly every area of life in Bunbury and not only as
employment or transport. It was also vital to extended 'railway families' and general community of the
town. The Railways Institute , the hub of life in Bunbury, was a key element of the social and cultural
fabric of the town providing not only organisation and venue for balls, weddings, regular dances and
meeting places but also sporting teams, a library service and later the first video hire in
Because the railways were 'life' to Bunbury, no one seemed to hear or mind the noise of the trains, the
whistles or the shunting all night, the rattle of the cream cans or the call boys waking workers in the
middle of the night to start their shifts. in fact it seems that many people were grateful for bonuses
like the coal split along the tracks. There are many stories regarding the use of coal.....'
"MY GRANDMOTHER , USED TO PUT BOTTLES ON TOP OF THE FENCE POSTS AT THE BACK OF HER HOME AS A TARGET
PRACTICE FOR THE TRAIN DRIVERS. THE DRIVERS WOULD THROW COAL AT THE BOTTLES AND SHE WOULD COLLECT THE
COAL FOR HER FIRE." Kevin Morrisey
'...Another concerns the cooking of crabs on the jetty with coal split in the tracks.
The railways provided vital transport for not only the expected wool, wheat, cattle, fruit and vegies,
timber and group settlers cream cans left by sidings and farm gates, but also for the unexpected, like
the circus and shoppers from Perth for the Cronshaw's annual sale. Also for school children on holidays
from Coolgardie with groups like the Fresh Air League and the school sporting teams from Bunbury High
School going to Brunswick, Dardanup and Boyanup for their weekly games.
Annual picnics were also a feature of railway transport including the annual "Lumpers Picnic" to
Donnybrook or the extraordinary story in the ' I Remember When' books of the children's picnic before
the line was completed between Bunbury and Perth. The line had been started from both ends and the
women and children were loaded into a carriage and had their menfolk push the carriage all the way to
Picton. This is an astonishing image and a reflection of the community role played by the railway in
CIRCUS TRAIN - SLOW DOWN!
is the result of bunbury's first significant community cultural development project.
Bridging the Gap. it successfully brought together the community organizations and individuals from
throughout the community and united them with a common goal, to commemorate the contribution of the
railway industry to Bunbury and to celebrate the abilities of people with disabilities.
What began as an art project became something much more. This project put people from all walks of life
and experiences together. It became the catalyst for new friendships, support networks and encouraged
the sharing of skills and stories.
Bridging the Gap was a partnership between the City of Bunbury and Disabilities and the Arts
Disadvantage and the Arts Western Australia (DADAAWA).
The City of Bunbury is committed to playing a leadership role in promoting an INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY.
DADAAWA is committed to 'ARTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE'.
It is a statewide community arts organization based in Fremantle that aims to use culture and the arts
to promote social inclusion for people with disability or mental illness.
Under the partnership the City of Bunbury provided the land and managed the project. DADAA provided
training to the artists, conducted community consultation, and identified and assisted
This project would not have been possible without the support of many other community organizations and
individuals. For a full list of project participants and supporters, and to find out more about the
project, visit www.bunbury.wa.gov.au when you get home.
BUT WHAT IS THIS ARTWORK ABOUT?
This artwork celebrates people with disabilities and the railway community. Together they created
an artwork that speaks of memories and belonging. Creating a visual representation of trains would
have been simple for the artists, however the challenge was how would people with disabilities be
represented in such a work?
Often people with disabilities can feel invisible.
"PEOPLE TREAT ME DIFFERENTLY WHEN I AM IN MY WHEELCHAIR. THEY CAN LOOK STRAIGHT PAST AS IF I DON'T
EXIST. SO I TRY AND STAND WHENEVER I CAN." Janelle Shaw - Bridging the Gap participant
Participants said that they tend to be identified as a person with a disability first and a member
of the community second. The Bridging the Gap project and this artwork allowed the participants to
leave tangible proof of their contribution to this community, to create a legacy.
The workshops identified many themes. People with a disability identified strongly with images of
intersecting tracks as depiction of the choices and confusion they can experience in their
When former workers and locals remembered the railway, the themes were of smells, sounds and
sensations - of air rushing by as trains moved through town, Friendships and community
"THE RAILWAY BRIDGE WAS A POPULAR PLACE TO CONGREGATE....IF A TRAIN WAS COMING, WE WOULD STAND AND
BE COVERED IN SMOKE! VERY EXCITING." Emmie Blackhurst (Bunbury, I remember When, Book 2)
The artists used these collective thoughts to create Circus Train. They referenced the
intersecting tracks to create a sense of movement, and freedom.
"WHAT IS FREEDOM TO ME? THE FEEL OF WIND IN MY HAIR AND THE SUN ON MY FACE." Janele Shaw
At the centre of the artwork sits a symbol common to both the railways and people with
disabilities, "the wheel". Whether it be from a steam train or a wheelchair, this was the obvious
image used to represent all people who gave us this artwork, right at its heart. What began as two
separate projects successfully became one, and resulted in the artwork here on the former site of
"I CAN DO ANYTHING - I JUST NEED HELP WITH THE IMPOSSIBLE." Lawrence Mitting -