The 29 April 1770 is the day of contact between Aboriginal Australians and the crew the HMB Endeavour. NPWS is pleased to complete the installation of three new bronze sculptures at Kurnell.
A smoking ceremony was undertaken by the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council for each element after arriving on site. The sites for each sculpture were carefully prepared before the crews transported, lifted, and secured the sculptures into position.
The artists, Theresa Ardler and Julie Squires designed and sculpted The Whales and Canoes. The whale mother and calf were formed with intricate engravings. Theresa Ardler explained that these are based on her painting on her Budbili, a possum skin cloak. ‘The story behind my Budbili is connected to the Sydney rock engravings of the mother humpback whale and her baby, out at La Perouse on the shores of Botany Bay. This engraving is a prominent landmark from my ancestors who carved the rock and continues to hold cultural and spiritual connection to our sea and country.’
In explaining the story behind the canoes, Theresa said, 'the Gweagal Clan traditionally fished from stringy bark canoes. They lit fires in their canoes on a base of white clay. The firelight attracted fish to the canoe, making them easier to catch. During their ‘first contact’ observations, both Cook and Banks recorded this practice.'
A Rock Weave was also completed and installed near the whales. This woven fishing net was hand made by Aboriginal Master Weaver Phyllis Stewart and cast into bronze by sculptor Julie Squires.
Alison Page and Nik Lachacjzak designed 'The Eyes of the Land and the Sea', an ‘abstraction of the ribs of the HMB Endeavour and the bones of the Gweagal totem the whale’. The artists worked closely with researchers at the Gujaga Foundation and Gweagal artist, Shane Youngberry to develop cultural and historical content which has been etched into each rib. This also describes those encounters at Kamay in 1770, inviting viewers to deeply engage with these diverse stories.
Alison explained, ‘The Eyes of the Land and the Sea’ is a story about discovery. Not the discovery of land by England, but of all Australians discovering our true history as we move together towards a reconciled Nation.’
There has been much excitement and positivity among locals who have been watching the installation occur (while they exercise). This whole process has been photographed and documented so we will be able to share the story of the sculptures creation from start to finish.