An old tree, which is now used as a bike rack at Bella Vista Farm, has been turned a vivid blue as a stark reminder to check-in with loved ones.
Local artist Samuel Kim, with the support of The Hills Shire Council, transformed the wooden bike rack into a striking and functional sculpture as part of the Blue Tree Project, which aims to encourage people to speak up about mental health.
Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Michelle Byrne said that while people were being more open about their mental health struggles, it was still viewed negatively.
“According to Beyond Blue, about 45 per cent of Australians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. This is a confronting statistic, yet there still remains a cultural taboo surrounding mental health,” Mayor Byrne said.
“That’s because those who suffer from a mental health condition can feel ashamed to open up and tell others. They fear being judged!
“It’s been my goal to change this belief and to normalise mental illness by encouraging people to talk about their struggles and to share their experiences, and for others to be there to support them in their time of need.
“I hope this functional sculpture does just that! I want people to check-in on their own mental health and to also reach out to their loved ones and ask that important question: “Are you OK?”
“That one question could just save a life,” Mayor Byrne added.
Mr Kim, who also painted a giant sunflower canvas during a live art performance at Council’s Australia Day celebrations in January, said this project “struck a chord”.
“Working with The Hills Shire Council has always been a pleasure and a lot of fun, but this particular project has been more meaningful than usual as the mural’s purpose is to promote the Blue Tree Project and their mission to encourage difficult discussions surrounding mental health and the strong message that ‘it’s ok to not be ok’,” Mr Kim added.
The blue bike rack will remain at Bella Vista Farm where it can be used and enjoyed while people explore the historic property and utilise the local cycleways.