Welcome to this special edition of No Limits.
We’re at the Awakenings Festival here in Horsham.
With the horse of course, it's not Horsham without a horse.
Sarah Barton: Stella and I were really good friends. We first met when she was just 20 and I was starting a community TV show called No Limits which was on Channel 31.
Stella was one of our first presenters on the show.
Stella Young: I know you'd all be more comfortable if we stayed at home with our knee rugs and our cups of tea but those days are over so get over it and let me in.
Sarah Barton: We met through work but we remained friends for the rest of her life.
I think it's fantastic that there's a statue of Stella being put up in the town of Stawell.
I mean for a start there's just so few statues of fabulous women and I would say even fewer statues of disabled women.
Danny Fraser: We have an early, early, the first little maquette that I did out of plaster here.
I sculpt out of clay and then and, because it had a wheelchair, it also had metal and timber and ah, you name it, it was in it.
And then it goes to the foundry and they make a silicone mould of the original sculpt.
They pour wax into that, put that in the kiln, melt the wax out and the bronze goes where the wax was.
It’s a very complex process.
Sarah Barton: Stella really was a remarkable young woman.
I mean, she died at just 32, but in those 32 years she packed a lot in.
She really stood for sort of bringing disability out into the mainstream.
People were really able to connect with her because she was so relatable, really.
Stella Young: Bye.
Sarah Barton: Bye.
Her mission I think in life was to get greater inclusion, greater accessibility for disabled people like herself.
Jillian Pearce: I was approached by Janice Florence from Arts Access Victoria and she was tasked with getting a group of creative women together.
She knew that I lived not far from where Stella grew up in Stawell...
Working on structures like this one with other artists in shadow and projection and… the role of the Creative Collective was shaping up the artist brief that Danny the artist would respond to that honoured Stella and her legacy and represented the agency she had in her own life.
Janice Florence: The only people who do figurative sculpture in Australia really are white men.
At the beginning I was a bit hesitant about involving a male sculptor but then in the end I sort of saw the wisdom of it because of Danny's expertise in this area of figurative sculpture and also because of his involvement in the local community.
Danny Fraser: I'm hoping when people see the statue in Stawell they'll think of the fact that there are not many female statues in Victoria and very few, maybe no, disabled female statues in the world.
I'm hoping she’d be proud but also she'd probably, from what I know from talking to her parents, she’d probably say I don’t know what all the fuss is about.
Janice Florence: Stella was a very dynamic young woman, very bright, very witty.
Danny Fraser: She was tireless, fun and really well respected.
A woman of extraordinary wit and humour and cleverness and sharpness and amazing agency.
Danny Fraser: She was amazingly intelligent and she got the message across that probably a lot of other people couldn't in an entertaining way.
For me the highlight of this whole project has been representing women.
Sarah Barton: These days when you see a statue of just another man you know like who you know might have been a politician or sportsman or whatever.
It's a bit, for women it's often a bit eyeroll.
You know we’re just like oh yeah you know statues.
And so maybe for that reason we feel that they're a little bit irrelevant to us but I think when they become relevant to women, I think that's a great thing because it really is saying that society values the contributions of women as much as it values the contributions of men.
Set in her home town of Stawell, Remembering Stella Young is a life size bronze statue that aims to continue Stella’s legacy to educate and challenge the community on its perception of disability, and to strive for “a world where disability is not the exception, but the norm”.
The piece was brought to life in the Northern Grampians by a collective of four artists with lived experience of disability. Artists Sarah Barton, Fayen D’Evie, Jillian Pearce and Janice Florence, together with local sculptor Danny Fraser, worked in close collaboration with Stella’s parents Lynne and Greg Young, consulting on everything from the design, the site and interactive elements.
Accessibility and inclusivity were at the heart of its design - the statue sits on a circular slab at ground level and includes interactive elements such as motion-activated sensors that give audio descriptions of the statue, a braille plaque and QR codes that enable visitors to access online videos and auditory components.
Remembering Stella Young is part of the Victorian Government’s $1 million program to address the historic underrepresentation of women as both artists and artworks, and is the first of six works to be unveiled. Before this program began only nine of the 580 statues across Melbourne depicted real women.
The program helps lift the visibility of women’s achievements and place them on the public record as well as celebrates and supports women artists, the arts and creative sectors more broadly. Artistic projects like these have been found to make a great contribution to local employment, community wellbeing and vitality, tourism and economic development.
The pieces – to be located in Linton, Drouin, Mildura and Melbourne as well as Stawell - are statues, sculptures and installations that tell stories of women’s experiences and achievements.
Creating a permanent record of the excellence and leadership of Victorian women shows future generations of women and girls what is possible – you can’t be what you can’t see.
Read more about the Victorian Women's Public Art Program.