A small plaque and a little fairy door have been installed at the Youth Hub in memory of a fey-spirited young woman who took her own life in Bellingen on June 11, 2012.
Faerie Emilie Ades lived in our community for only a short time but touched many hearts. A familiar sight at markets and festivals, she was a skilful face painter who also created beautiful art with her brush using whole bodies as her canvas. In 2007 and 2009 she won a national body art prize at the Chalk Urban Art Festival in Sydney, and in 2011 she was runner-up in the World Body Painting Championships.
After her death, friends raised over a thousand dollars for a butterfly bench seat in her honour, hoping young children could sit on it and feel transformed, as if they had wings. But when it arrived, the bench was smaller than expected and had sharp sections that were regarded as dangerous, so it was never installed.
The donations then stayed in a Bellingen Chamber of Commerce bank account for years, with no one quite sure what to do with the money.
"I think Fairie Emilie has been talked about at almost every board meeting," President Libby Park said.
She credits Paul Harper, Hilary Cadman and Tricia Helyar with arranging the eventual solution in consultation with one of Emilie's close friends.
A fairy door from Smallhavens and a plaque engraved "In loving memory of Faerie Emilie" have now been installed at the Bello Youth Hub. And the remaining funds, about $700, have been put towards the Youth Hub's work in supporting mental health initiatives for young people in our town.
Emilie's friend Myola Suffolk, who is a youth worker at the Hub, said placing Emilie's fairy door in the courtyard next to the dance studio was eminently suitable.
"Here we have the Chrysalis kids come to do playgroup and children come to do dancing. They usually sit out here and have a little picnic. So it's going to create a lot more joy," she said.
Another friend, Kai Tipping, suggested the memorial could also start more conversations about suicide.
"I didn't necessarily see her darker moments. She came and played festivals with the band and she was at every one of my daughters' birthdays doing face-painting.
"We still haven't had a conversation with the kids about her taking her own life but I think now they're bigger and the memorial's here, we might start that conversation. I still miss her a lot. She has definitely left a big hole."
Another friend, Miklos Platthy, met Emilie through Kai when they were sharing a place in the Thora valley.
"My first association with her was all the fairy stuff. It was the light side of Emilie. But I ended up supporting her at different times. She'd talk about her troubles with men, and her passion for Kundalini yoga.
"She was wanting a family, feeling alienated in the world. The world of magic - and I've heard a lot of other people who are in that circle say this - the world of magic seems to be closing. There's less and less space for it. Because everything is getting more regulated and stressful."
He suggested the liberal attitudes of the 1980s have given way to a more restricted orthodoxy where people are pressured to be constantly performing instead of being allowed time to dream, and this change did not suit Emilie.
"She was very much a romantic. She was a big believer in soul-mates, a big believer in the natural world. And European ideas of magic and the fairy world - the mythology of the Celtic tradition."
Emilie went through unstable periods and had been prescribed anti-depressants, which she may not have been taking regularly. It seems she had lots of love and support available to her, but still decided to end her life.
Youth Hub coordinator Dean Besley said her friends didn't need to cast around trying to work out what they could have done to prevent it.
"Sometimes when people struggle with mental health, we do the best we can and it still ends up the way it does," he said.
If this story has raised issues for you, help is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14.