By Emily Ferguson
A large sculpted gumtree now stands invitingly in the foyer of a church building that aptly resembles a mountain log cabin – an unmissable symbol of Katoomba Lighthouse Church’s dream for their Blue Mountains community.
From the end of March to the beginning of June, Pastor Kristin Dalbrun and local artist Emily Lane collaborated on the project of transforming the functional church foyer into an embodiment of the warm welcome they hope to offer their community while capturing Katoomba’s nature-oriented culture.
“Before we went into lockdown I shared with the church a scripture God had given me, which was Matthew 13:31-32,” said Kristin. “That scripture talks about the mustard seed being the smallest, but it grows to be the largest and becomes a tree with branches that the birds of the air can come and rest in.
“For me, the tree is prophetic art in the way that it is a symbol of God’s people, God’s church, being trees whose branches people can come and rest in the safety of. It’s a vision for the Lighthouse, and I believe the church will grow to be just that.”
Built around an existing pole (pictured left), the tree was constructed by securing it to the ceiling and adding timber supports, using chicken wire to give it shape and movement, and covering it with layered bed sheets drenched in watered-down plaster. The church community wrote words and scriptures the Holy Spirit gave them, which were then covered with plaster before the tree was sanded and painted by hand.
“Now the first thing you see when you walk in isn’t fluorescent lights and plastic chairs – it feels like a lounge room,” said Emily, who painted the tree and feels that in art she has finally found what God wants her to do. “I’ve been at Katoomba Lighthouse Church for 16 years and it’s taken someone with a bit of vision and imagination to say, ‘Give yourself permission to dream, to see what is possible for this space.’”
The redesigned space has already played host to a small gathering of women from the community to sample American-style pumpkin-spiced lattés.
“There was a lot of laughing,” Kristin said. “It was exactly what I pictured with the tree. Birds of the air were just buzzing and flying around the tree – birds of every kind and shape and size, finding a place of safety. It made my heart happy.
“I’m a firm believer that our goal is not to get people into the building, but if we’re going to have a building let’s create a space that’s comforting for them.”
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