Copley community gets creative with ceramics

Back in 2008, there wasn’t that much to do in Copley, which is nearly 600 kilometres north of Adelaide, in the northern reaches of the Flinders Ranges. With 100 people and five businesses, Copley experienced the usual problems of remote communities, including unemployment.

Enter VISE – the Volunteers for Isolated Students’ Education  – which assists outback Australians with their education. The volunteers, mostly retired teachers, give up their time to assist families and communities in need in rural and remote areas of Australia.

VISE had already worked with the local Aboriginal community to develop metal fabrication skills that enabled the development of a set of unique wrought iron gates for the local Aboriginal cemetery.

The group put together a proposal to further use these skills to erect a shed which would ultimately become a ceramics studio and hopefully an ongoing, sustainable business. The project was all about encouraging local people to produce ceramics which would be sold in the local community, as well as potentially exhibited in other parts of South Australia.

Originally funded under FRRR’s Helping Hands program in 2008, it was almost completed when changes to planning regulations meant that additional reinforcement was required, as well as additional fire equipment, extraction fans, lighting and power outlets. A second grant, from the 2010 ANZ Seeds of Renewal program, enabled completion of the original building, which was undertaken by VISE volunteers and the local community.

The building is now complete and a business plan has been developed. We suggest that if you are doing a trip through outback South Australia, make sure you drop in to Copley to see the cemetery gates and visit the ceramic studio. Read more about the project on the VISE website.

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