What’s Art Got to do With It? – Erin McCuskey

IT’S A story of true love to make even the hardest-hearted amongst us swoon.

It’s a story of a man who loved his wife so much that he gave her a gift that puts all of our diamond rings and red roses to shame.

Erin McCuskey talks about the Tammy fence in Ballarat East
The Tammy Fence in Ballarat East. Picture: Caleb Cluff

The Tammy Fence in Ballarat East. Picture: Caleb Cluff

The Tammy Fence is a Ballarat East icon, and the third installment of The Courier’s new series of artists and the local pieces that inspire them.

Filmmaker Erin McCuskey said she cycles, walks and drives past the fence every day and continues to find the fence, emblazoned with beautiful ballerinas and musical notes, deeply moving and inspiring.

Emily and Angus Eeles lived in the Ballarat East home during the 1950s and 1960s. Mrs Eeles was a choreographer, dancer and music teacher who also taught from her home and performed on the local TV station BTV6.

At the time, the song Tammy had been made famous by singer Debbie Reynolds. Mrs Eeles was known to love the 1950s American Tammy film series.

As a gift to his talented wife, Mr Eeles made the fence, believed to be note-perfect to the song.

McCuskey, who is currently working on a transmedia project called Luxville, said she was moved by the obvious gesture of love.

“Love is the biggest question of our time, really,” she said.

“It’s an important part of Ballarat culture...and it’s also core to that question of what is love because this is a man whose dedicated an entire fence. It’s 80 years old but we still see how much this man loved this woman. It’s incredible.”

MsCuskey also said the fence captured a tiny but wonderful pocket of history.

“For me this is a dedication to pop culture,” she said.

“Emily was well known in Ballarat although her story isn’t often told. This was part of the Red Hill theatre district and this is part of the stories we need to tell.”


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