The Understory concept has always been a ‘grass roots’ initiative. Grounded in our local community, it reflects and celebrates the unique qualities of our local community.
The impetus for Understory came from two local artists, Fiona Sinclair and Peter Hill. In the early 2000’s they were contributing to a series of ephemeral art trails held across the South West region of Western Australia with the intent of drawing attention to a range of ecosystems under threat from logging in old growth forests.
The experience of creating sculptures in nature for the public to discover and enjoy was illuminating.
Public response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. It was apparent there was a great appetite for contemporary art to be encountered outside a traditional gallery context, for experiences that could reconnect people with their sense of wonder in the natural world and appreciation for human ingenuity.
“I saw how much the general public loved seeing art in nature and as an artist it was so great to have the opportunity to respond directly to the environment. I had the notion that ‘someday’ in the future I would try to make something more permanent for our community as a way of celebrating these glorious forests and to help support and diversify the local economy through the expansion of tourism.”
Fiona Sinclair 
Fiona conveyed the core concept to the Northcliffe Arts Association in 2004. A small team of volunteers then co-designed the project with other community groups and individuals in a lengthy consultation process for the following 18 months. The project evolved from the original idea – the development of a permanent sculpture walk – to a multi-arts experience across a range of art forms, combining gallery and other events.
The arduous task of raising funds to establish the trail and commission the first series of artworks required countless volunteer hours and steep learning curves.
The Project Coordinator (Fiona Sinclair) was guided by mentors of incredible calibre.
Sincere gratitude goes to: Francois Davin (global site-specific ‘art in nature’ guru), Maggie Baxter (Public Art), Jesse Brampton (Trail Development), Barry Strickland (Interpretation), Keith Sinclair and Rob Finlayson (Literature), Robyn Johnson and Lee Buddle (music), Elizabeth Jack (Tourism Marketing), Suzanne Kelly (Indigenous) and Robyn Taylor (Historian).