Dancing a jig with dad

By Sandy Scheltema

It’s been two years since Matt Harding, an internationally renowned sculptor living and working in Trentham, tragically died from suicide, leaving behind his beloved partner Freya Maclaren and their four young children.
His death shook the local community, where Matt lived with his family.
Trentham resident Jacinta Bourke thought it was a shame that Matt’s striking sculptures could be seen around the world but there were none in Trentham where he created them. As a result, a group of local volunteers got together and successfully applied for state government Pick Your Project funding.
The $65,000 applied for was to design and create the work and organise planning approvals and installation at the entrance to the town. The town worked hard to get public support for the project as successful applications were chosen via an online voting process.
The sculpture consists of jigs from Matt Harding’s workshop studio – they were used as mounts for his large sculptures during their creation – mounted on two large Trentham boulders weighing 16 and 12 tonnes. It has been installed at the main entrance to Trentham.
The sculpture is called Dancing a Jig with Dad.
Matt’s partner Freya Maclaren said she was grateful to everyone who worked so hard to bring this sculpture to fruition.
“Matt had a beautiful smile and these sculptures remind me of his smile,” she said.
“When I first saw these sculptures in the workshop, I loved the simplicity and strength of the forms. I hope so much that the people of Trentham are pleased to have this sculpture in their town.”
As well as acknowledging the high regard with which the local community held Matthew, Dancing a Jig with Dad is to serve as a reminder of the high rate of suicide among men, especially in regional areas, and is meant to prompt people to look out for those who are suffering but feel unable to ask for help.
A commemorative plaque is also being installed at the site, and a bench for rest and contemplation.
A public event dedicating the sculpture in Matt’s name is scheduled for March 22 at 3pm at Trent Creek Reserve, Bath Street, Trentham. The dedication will be led by art dealer Stuart Purves, an expert on large-scale sculpture.
Anyone needing immediate assistance should call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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