Project Team: Danièle Hromek and Samantha Rich guided by Uncle Greg Simms, Aunty Marjorie Dixon and Uncle Assen China Timbery
Location: Randwick, Sydney, New South Wales
Methodology: Community led design
Type: Integrated artwork
Overview: Guruwaal is a collaborative integrated work guided by Aboriginal Knowledge Holders and Custodians of the area local to UNSW. Uncle Greg Simms (artist), Aunty Marjorie Dixon (cultural advisor) and Uncle Assen China Timbery (cultural advisor) worked with Danièle Hromek and Samantha Rich to interpret narratives of the place of UNSW.
This work draws upon the narratives and histories of the local Aboriginal community and is connected to the knowledges of place and the deep histories of Country that are embedded within the community.
The overarching story recognises that for the local mob, as saltwater people their totem is the whale. The whale bones on the concrete area shows the design the La Perouse community uses to paint themselves up with for ceremony and dance. The animals represented on the wooden stairs, who belong to this place, are revealing that the site used to be swampy, or bitterwater, the brackish water that sits between salt and freshwater. Nearby is sweetwater or freshwater for drinking. The animals are showing the journey from saltwater to sweet through the brackish water, revealing this as a meeting place that brings people together from many places. The artists wanted all who visit this place to know that Aboriginal peoples, including students, staff and visitors, have belonging here as do all people who come to this place.
Guruwaal means ‘whale’ in the local language, spelled like this to reflect the way the word is to be said.
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub, an important ecological community to much of the eastern parts of Sydney, is returned to place as a reminder of the importance of including spaces for non-humans to inhabit places that have become covered by concrete, brick and glass.