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New Sculpture as Part of 'Songline Energy Maintenance'

Updated: Jun 24, 2021

A first-of-its-kind sculpture has been unveiled in the Shire of Plantagenet in Western Australia.

The sculpture is a result of a collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists and conservation groups bringing together Aboriginal wisdom with Western science to inspire social and ecological restoration.

Local Aboriginal artworks embedded in the sculpture represent the stories of significant plants and wildlife from the region. These are juxtaposed with artwork that relays scientifically-informed contemporary natural history about the ecology, geology and history of the region.

Aunty Carol Pettersen speaking during the sculpture opening. Pic: Basil Schur

The sculpture itself is a 3.5-metre-high evolutionary tree of selected regional species (including humans) which resembles a flower. It traces the evolution of distinctive local species in the region back over hundreds of millions of years, highlighting humanity’s shared ancestry with these species.

Perspectives on the sculpture.

Viewers can stand outside the sculpture and observe the cultural connections, or stand inside the sculpture and observe the ecological and geological story of the region.

The project is the creative concept of local Noongar Elder Carol Pettersen together with Ben Beeton, which came about when viewing Dr Noel Nannup’s map of the song lines of the South West in 2017.

Noel has described the work as belonging to "songline energy maintenance."

Artists from around the Shire of Plantagenet were invited to participate in the sculpture by Carol. A series of workshops were then held to develop the locally-derived artworks.

A number of other artists, scientists, illustrators and organisations have come together to create the artwork.

Internal and external views on the sculpture, including Caroline Narkle beside her artwork and Professor Stephen Hopper inside the sculpture. Pics: Basil Schur

The sculpture is located at the Twin Creeks Community Conservation Reserve near Porongorup. It is a key part of the newly developed ‘Heartland Journeys’ trail developed by Gondwana Link showcasing the significant biodiversity of the Great Southern.

It is hoped that the sculpture will be the first of over a hundred public artworks to be installed in ecologically and culturally significant communities across Australia.

The on-country experience is enhanced by online learning and teaching which includes stories of the region.

The sculpture was officially opened on May 29. More information, photos and video, including the opening event and related panel discussion, can be found here.

The Genestreams website is currently under development, and is available here.


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