Gleaming in the light, an Aussie emblem handcrafted in Albury represents more than just its own beauty.
The whole point's to raise some money for awareness of cyberbullying and suicide prevention
Artist Mark Lloyd Riddell spent about 80 hours creating an aluminium Akubra hat that will be raffled to raise money for bullying prevention foundation Dolly’s Dream.
“It was probably 25 hours just sanding and polishing,” he said on Monday.
Raffle tickets will be sold from Wednesday at Melbourne Showgrounds during equestrian showcase Equitana.
Riddell, of MLR Custom Coachbuilder, said he’d made a few metal hats previously and had bought an actual Akubra for this purpose.
“It didn’t fit me, but I thought at least it’s a pattern that I could use,” he said.
As he worked earlier this year, the tragic death of Amy “Dolly” Everett, 14, who took her own life after an extended period of bullying and cyberbullying, was becoming widely known.
Encouraged by friends, Riddell decided to donate his artwork and contacted Dolly’s Dream.
“We’ve been in touch over the year,” he said.
“The whole point’s to raise some money for awareness of cyberbullying and suicide prevention.”
Originally from Scotland, Riddell’s previous artwork touched on similar themes after he arrived on the Central Coast in 2000 and became aware of concerning suicide statistics.
“But then when you look around and you’ve got these beautiful blue skies and beaches and the ocean, I just thought it was such a kind of juxtaposition of the beauty and then the tragedy,” he said.
His Akubra includes a Dolly’s Dream symbol and is engraved with a motto of the foundation, “Speak, even if your voice shakes”.
“Then I lined it with a blue velvet because that was Dolly’s favourite colour,” he said.
Riddell’s first metal hat was a steel baseball cap, created in the early 1990s around the time of riots in Los Angeles.
Like that piece, his latest work has come to symbolise a defensive shield.
“As much as it wasn’t done with that intent initially, it’s about creating a protection against, sadly, the things that happen with young people and cyberbullying and the ultimate, suicide.
“In a way that hard exterior presents that sort of protection and then the softer interior reflects what we are inside.”
The Akubra was collected on Monday for its trip to Melbourne and Equitana, where Dolly’s Dream will be stand 412 in the Epsom Pavilion.
Spokeswoman Fi Collins said the foundation was thrilled to display the artwork.
“For Dolly’s Dream, the hat is a visual representation of the outpouring of support shown by the community,” she said.
- If you need support, ring Lifeline on 13 11 14