17 Nov, 2020

Tracking Connections in Gawler Place

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New artwork in the north and south of Gawler Place will extend the City of Adelaide’s ongoing acknowledgement of the Kaurna people as the First Nation people of the Adelaide Plains while demonstrating respect for their connection to Country in both past, present and future living culture.

The artwork wraps, titled Tracking Connections, will cover two services boxes. They have been designed as part of a collaboration between artist Laura Wills, who co-created the ‘Flow’ artwork in Gawler Place north (with Will Cheesman), and Kaurna, Narungga and Ngarrindjeri artist Carly Tarkari Dodd.

The artists explored mapping elements and imagery from the Adelaide Park Lands and also used some of the ‘hidden’ elements that have been incorporated into the existing Gawler Place ‘Flow’ artwork.

The aim of the two unique artwork wraps is to engage visitors as well as bring a strong reflection of place, creating an immersive experience to activate the street and encourage people to slow down and absorb the work.

Lord Mayor of Adelaide Sandy Verschoor said that the inclusion of these artworks in the upgraded Gawler Place acknowledges the City of Adelaide’s commitment to reconciliation, in this case through public art.

“The Tracking Connections pieces bring the Park Lands into Rundle Mall, drawing inspiration from nature and the seasons and acknowledging the importance of the Park Lands to the people of Adelaide. The artworks will be a unique artistic drawcard to the area,” said the Lord Mayor.

“The City of Adelaide values its culturally diverse community and is committed to extending the process of reconciliation in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

“This is evident through our current Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-2021 where we commit to 50 deliverables and 100-plus actions all in support of reconciliation and celebration of our First Nation peoples of South Australia. The city has a strong Aboriginal history and, today, has a strong and active community.

“I congratulate the artists on creating these wonderful artworks that will help increase Kaurna visibility and awareness in the city.”

Laura Wills is an artist based in Tarntanya/Adelaide. Laura is interested in creating works that are communicative in nature and connect people to the environment, exploring themes such as mapping, shelter, the environment, botanical relationships and food security issues. She is currently working from Central Studios in Kent Town.

Carly Takari Dodd is a proud Kaurna, Narungga and Ngarrindjeri artist who is passionate about expressing her Aboriginal heritage through art and storytelling. Her most recent exhibition project, Shackled Excellence, was presented at The Mill as part of Tarnanthi in 2019.

Two other new artworks that connect the city to its Traditional Owners are Kardi Munta (Emu Net) and Kardi (Emu), two sculptures in Pityarilla / Pelzer Park (Park 19). In a partnership between the City of Adelaide and the State Government of South Australia, they bring to life a Kaurna story of the area as told by Senior Kaurna Elder, Aunty Lynette Kua Nepotinna Crocker. The sculptures have been created by artist Paul Mantirri Munaitya Herzich, who is a descendant of the Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna people of South Australia, and also a descendant of German Lutherans who migrated to Hahndorf in 1838. Paul is a contemporary Aboriginal landscape architect and visual artist who has a focus on Aboriginal peoples, art and country.

The installation captures a moment in time when Kaurna people would build strong nets to capture larger game, as opposed to their finer nets made from strings and plant fibres to capture fish and smaller birds like ducks. The nets were so strong they were able to capture emu.

A yarning or learning circle sits in the middle of these cultural markers and provides opportunities for Kaurna Elders to celebrate the living Kaurna culture by sharing knowledge of their people; past, present, and future.

The City of Adelaide embarked on a journey of reconciliation with its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in 1997.

A reconciliation vision statement was developed through a process of negotiation and consultation with members of the local Aboriginal communities. The process was followed in 1998 in developing the National Sorry Day Acknowledgement. In May 2008, Council adopted its first Reconciliation Action Plan, which provided a framework for the implementation of Council’s Reconciliation Vision Statement and National Sorry Day Acknowledgement.

‘Respect, relationships and opportunities’ are the base of the current City of Adelaide Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2018-2021, the eleventh to be adopted since the City of Adelaide first embarked on a journey of reconciliation. In 2002, the City of Adelaide established a formal Reconciliation Committee with goals to advance reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples and the wider City of Adelaide community.

The Kaurna people are the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Adelaide Plains. The extent of Kaurna Country covers approximately 8,000km² or 2,000,000 acres extending from Cape Jervis in the south to Redhill in the north, Williamstown in the east and includes most of the eastern coastline of Saint Vincent Gulf.

Prior to European contact, the Kaurna population may have numbered several thousand, but the population had sadly reduced to about 700 by the time the colony of South Australia was formally established in 1836. However a triumphant moment occurred on 21 March 2018 for the Kaurna people and wider Aboriginal communities as nations collectively celebrated the fact that 182 years later, Native Title consent determination was made, and the Kaurna people were officially recognised as the Traditional Owners of this land by the higher courts of Australia.

Find out more about Kardi Munta (Emu Net) and Kardi (Emu) here

Learn more about City of Adelaide public art here