Bendigo artist Andre Sardone donated a shield sculpture to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander garden at Eaglehawk Secondary College on Wednesday, to commemorate work on the garden restarting after almost a nine-month hiatus due to coronavirus.
The garden - which is part of the college's extensive cultural awareness program - is funded by the Creative Workers in Schools grant from Regional Arts Victoria in partnership with the Department of Education and Training.
Mr Sardone was commissioned by Yorta Yorta artist Lorraine Brigdale, who as part of the grant, has been working as an Indigenous cultural educator with the college.
Ms Brigdale said while the garden is a symbol of respect for the Dja Dja Wurrung lands and Bendigo's extensive Indigenous population, it is also a place for people to visit and reflect.
"It's a permanent reminder for (the children) that they can draw on their own strength and resilience that comes from within," she said.
"You can really feel the energy when you go into the garden."
The garden also features an array of Indigenous plants and rocks.
The colleges Year 7 and 8 students are also contributing to the garden by creating handmade terracotta pavers to lay around the sculpture.
More news: Kangaroo Flat boy drowns at Lake Nagambie
Ms Brigdale is running cultural classes for the students to enrich their learning in the program.
In what has been an exceptionally disruptive time for students, she said she hoped the garden remained a symbol of resilience for the children for many years to come.
"We're trying to give the students a bit more knowledge about Aboriginal culture because it's not something everyone knows about," she said.
Cultural awareness program coordinator Judith Chalmers said the students relished the opportunity to get creative.
"They loved working on the pottery," Ms Chalmers said.
"And they listened really closely when (Lorraine) was talking about inner strength."
The garden is expected to be finished in early 2022. The school is planning an opening celebration - featuring a smoking ceremony and didgeridoo performance by the college's resident didgeridoo teacher, Uncle Paul Chapman and his students.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.