Gadigal Wangal wayfinding project

Artists create public art celebrating Aboriginal culture and heritage in the inner west

Inner West Council received funding from the Stronger Communities Programme in 2016 to commission five art installations, one for each ward of the Inner West Council Local Government Area. A Critical Investigation into the Gadigal Wangal Landscape of the inner west was also commissioned and artists were invited to respond to this site specific research, choosing to reveal an element of the rich and unique Gadigal and Wangal Aboriginal culture of the Inner West.

To date the Gadigal Wangal Wayfinding project has resulted in the installation of four distinct public artworks with final commission currently underway. The project aims to describe components of Aboriginal history using visual means, and through these beautiful artworks we celebrate the continuing presence of Aboriginal people within the inner west. We now have key works that add to the wider public art collection and represent features and histories of Gadigal-Wangal Lands, deepening our connection to place, and enriching our knowledge of a pre- and post-colonised inner west.

Gadigal Wangal Mentoring Commission

Currently underway

An artist commissioned to create an artwork as part of the Gadigal Wangal Wayfinding project, has also stepped up to act as Artist Mentor.

Chris Edwards of the creative team Edwards Clarke has been guiding three young Aboriginal Artists through the process of developing a design proposal for the final public art commission of this series. All three young artists developed exceptional, heartfelt designs, and we advise you to look out for them work in the future, and you can also see it at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists' Cooperative.

Hayley Pigram, Travis de Fries and Jasmine Sarin, were the lucky mentees selected from a list of recommendations provided by local Aboriginal arts and educational institutions. All three artists advised us that they all learnt a lot from Chris and will use this next time they apply for a public art opportunity.

The artist selected for the final Gadigal Wangal Wayfinding commission is Jasmine Sarin. Her eloquent design will be manufactured and installed, all with support from Chris her Mentor, in readiness for placement in Camperdown Memorial Rest in Newtown towards the end of this year.

Gadigal Wangal Wayfinding works

Gadgial Mural by Tim Phibs, P. J. Simon, Kevin May and Joanne Cassady

Gadigal Reserve, 1 Grosvenor Cres, Summer Hill
Djarrawunang (Magpie) - Ashfield Ward

Gadigal Wangal Mural Artist statement:
For the Gadigal Reserve Mural, I wanted to create a vibrant mural which remembers the waterway originally known as Long Cove Creek. The waterway was an important home for endemic plants and animals, and these will feature prominently in the mural. As Lead Artist for the project, I worked with three other Aboriginal Artists - P.J.Simon, Kevin May and Jo Cassady, and all four styles came together very successfully. All four artists connected with the site during the time spent painting in Gadigal Reserve. It is a very interesting urban space with plants and small creatures living there despite the fact that the creek line has been covered by urban development. The concrete canal has completely changed the way the creek looks. Although certain animals and plants that were once present have disappeared, the manmade structures of the bridge and railway overpass have become a new home for these animals. I planned from the outset to create the back drop for the mural with a bright, vibrant and stylised pattern work that symbolises the once pristine waterway and reminiscent of an aerial view of ripples and rain drops falling into the water. Working in tandem with the other three artists the collaboration created a vibrant visual dialogue celebrating the local areas proud Aboriginal heritage. The artists’ who worked on the artwork will encourage local residents and visitors to stop and consider the artwork, and in doing so create a deeper connection and a positive reminder of the Aboriginal cultural heritage and wildlife that continues to survive in the inner west.

Fish Traps by Edward Clarke

King George Park, Manning St, Rozelle
Baludarri (Leather Jacket) - Balmain Ward 

Fishtraps - David Molloy Artist statement: 
Through this commission we wanted to make space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to tell the story of what fishing means to them. For them, fishing is as natural and as necessary as breathing. It forms part of the deep cultural and spiritual connection many communities have with their waters and marine resources, whether saltwater or freshwater. Fishing is a matter of cultural practice and is informed by traditional knowledge. Today, these long-held traditions have become increasingly challenged. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have been marginalised from both commercial and non-commercial fisheries and are often denied access to their traditional waters. But across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fishers are taking steps to ensure their voices and values are heard in fisheries management planning, negotiating catch allowances and controlled access to their waters and marine resources. While the importance of fishing as a way of life is obvious to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there have been few attempts to translate their experiences into a narrative that governments, non-Indigenous fishers and the general public can immediately understand and appreciate.

Cadi - The Clansman by Blak Douglas aka Adam Hill 

Hawthorne Reserve, Darley Road, Leichhardt
Gulgadya (Grass Tree) - Leichhardt Ward 

Blak Douglas - Cadi The Clansman Artist statement: 
The botanical name is Xanthorrhoea Australis but here the plant is known as Cadi. I wished to acknowledge the totem of the local peoples. In as elaborate way possible and hence this design would be arguably the first such acknowledgement here. Being a sensitive species, the loam needs to be uncorrupted, which is why we rarely see the actual plant growing happily within suburbia. It is my vision that this be the first of many ‘models’ that may appear in and around the CBD of Sydney. At least this piece may stand as the first quasi monument to the totem of the Gadigal (Cadigal) peoples. It is only apt that this impressive stature stands as homage to the men whom met the British on arrival, standing erect and with spears at side. No doubt an impressive site indeed. With accompanying plaque, this piece will serve as a crucial educational resource for all visitors to Hawthorne Reserve.

Nawi by Joe Hurst

Steel Park, 531-565 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville
Midjuburi (Lillypilly) - Marrickville Ward

Joe Hurst - Nawi 2019 - 270Artist statement:
My concept is to represent a nawi (or bark canoe). I have designed the nawi over-scaled to create a sense of space. The nawi was used on the waterways of the Sydney basin including what is now called the Cooks River and its tributaries. The Cooks River is a mangrove tidal estuary river of what is now called Botany Bay. The nawi were constructed from cobajora (Yellow Stringybark trees) that lined the waterways, and were used for fishing baludarri (leather-jacket) or garuma (bream) and other small fish, using a garradjun (fishing line) and bara (fishhook made from oyster shell), enough for cooking on a small guwiyung (fire). These canoes were an important form of transport used to cross the river and to float up and down with the tides. The mahn (fisherwomen) and mani (fishermen) skilfully navigated the mangroves and the rocky shelves to gamay (Botany Bay) at the mouth of the river.

Gadigal Mural Video Story 

What's the story behind this beautiful mural that celebrates indigenous connections? 

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Page last updated: 07 Jul 2020