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Brisbane Watchhouse Officer helps fire up Cherbourg

Rod Green (far left) with volunteers and members of the Cherbourg community

Pottery production is in the midst of an historic revival in the South Burnett town of Cherbourg as the local community breathes life into the once internationally renowned Barambah Pottery.

It is the first time in 30 years that Cherbourg is creating their infamous works after the original pottery was forced to close in 1987.

In late 2016, the community decided they would attempt to reopen Barambah Pottery and launch the ReFire project.

To get started the community put out a call for public assistance to acquire vital items necessary to get the workshop started up again. The call was picked up by the ABC who aired the story statewide in March.

Senior Assistant Watchhouse Officer Rod Green, from the Brisbane City Watchhouse saw the program and immediately made plans to get involved.

“When I first saw the news story I saw how many young people were joining the elder’s and getting involved. It was really inspiring to see a community coming together like that,” Rod said.

Rod then set about sourcing items from across Australia to donate to the ReFire project and even hosted a successful private event that received several donated items.

“Initially I didn’t tell the organisers what I was planning because it would be something that would surprise the community that people from outside Cherbourg cared,” Rod said.

“Once I knew what to get I personally paid and bought items from around Australia and looked for items in the local area to purchase. I also received several donations from people in the community.”

After Rod secured enough items to fill an entire studio he travelled to Cherbourg to personally deliver the items he spent two months collecting.

“The potters didn’t realise how much we had got together,” Rod said.

“In the end, we delivered a number of electric potter’s wheels, glazes, extruders for clay forming, moulds, a kiln, pottery shapers, pottery books and nearly a quarter tonne of clay.

“I still have two more kilns to delivers as well as a gas and raku kiln.”

The equipment delivered by Rod can now be used by the community to move forward with their plans to manufacture their own pottery for use by the local artists.

Project Manager Matthew Wengert said the community are overwhelmed by Rod’s contribution.

“Rod’s donation has shown that people care and that they respect art and want to help our artists succeed,” Matthew said.

“The donation from Rod allows us to move to the next stage of our project where the community will use the new items to produce our own pottery to paint.

“Rod has helped our community to become more self-reliant and independent in the future.”

During this time, Rod has acted exclusively in the capacity as a volunteer and said he has been moved by the experience of lending a hand to Cherbourg residents and is inspired by their strong community spirit.

“I’ve been involved in lots of different projects, most of them as part of the defense force but working with this community has been the most gratifying and rewarding experience,” Rod said.

“I suppose as I get older I find myself caring more for the community and about the past from where we came.”

For more information about the Cherbourg ReFire project and where you can see these works of pottery on display click here to view the ReFire Facebook page.

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