By Breanna Inferrera
A KALAMUNDA resident’s simple idea to capture the bear hunt movement amid COVID-19 on camera and create a photo book for her grandchildren has flourished into a piece of history.
Two copies of Merrilyn Mellis’ book, Bear Hunt, have been donated to the State Library of WA (SLWA) – one for general access and the other for its COVID-19 Collecting Drive.
The drive is a raft of COVID-19 related material, including photos, diaries, unwanted flyers, posters, signs and mail-outs reflecting the community response and changes to services during the pandemic.
On her daily walk around the City of Kalamunda throughout March and April, Ms Mellis decided to take photos of the teddy bears popping up in people’s front windows and gardens on her mobile phone.
“The more I walked, the more I realised how many people were going to an enormous effort with their bears and how many more young people there were on the streets,” she said.
“The children were riding bikes and young mums walking strollers.
“People were so much friendlier and engaging, it was more than just a ‘hello’.”
Bear Hunt tells the tale of a ‘big sickness’ in the world which has prevented children from visiting their local playground.
The ‘Kalamunda Bear Club’ makes it their mission to help the children smile.
Photos of different teddy bears and other stuffed toys comprise the bulk of the book.
The story ends with the teddy bears heading back inside their homes because winter is looming.
“I think I captured the moment because as soon as it started to rain, most of these gorgeous looking bears all just went inside,” Ms Mellis said.
The 71-year-old explained she is not the only person in her family who has a piece of history at the SLWA.
“I realised I was the fourth generation,” she said.
“My great-grandfather, born in Perth, was a botanical artist and I collected his albums together and donated them.
“My grandfather wrote letters home to his mum in the first world war.
“My father wrote letters home in the second world war.
“I think they’d all be smiling at me because guess what my attempt at history is – bears!”
A copy of Bear Hunt is also available for loan at Kalamunda Library.