Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker's series of works for the Northern Beaches Coast Walk in Sydney

Spanning 36km of coastline between Manly and Palm Beach, the Coast Walk connects people to the landscape, to each other, and to the past, present, and future.

Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker's series of works for the Northern Beaches Coast Walk in Sydney

Working with UAP's team in Australia and independent curator Tess Allas, Aboriginal artist Frances Belle Parker, was selected to develop artworks for multiple sites along the Coast Walk. Frances' winning concept designs celebrate Aboriginal stories of whale migration and the coast as a gathering spot and important life source of food such as oysters. Frances Belle Parker is a proud Yaegl woman, painter, and artist from Maclean, NSW. She came to prominence by winning the prestigious Blake Prize in 2000, making her the youngest ever winner and the first Aboriginal recipient in the prize’s history.

The Northern Beaches Coast walk is a connected trail of walking paths that gives the public access to some of the most beautiful coastal views in the world. Parker’s sculptures now adorns three sites along the trail and her beautiful series responds to Country and coast underneath the walking trail. Pre-contact the Guringai inhabited the wider Northern Beaches region for some 20,000 years. There are three artworks including; Oyster Shells – Middens, 2022 at Narrabeen Lagoon; Whale Songs, 2022 at South Avalon, and Whale Songs, 2022 at Long Reef.

The Aboriginal Art & Storytelling project aims to acknowledge, respect and share, the stories of the Northern Beaches Aboriginal people through a series of public artworks along the Coast Walk. “We are proud to have initiated this public art project which we know will enhance the beauty of the Coast Walk by offering moments of contemplation to users of this terrific walking trail. Frances Belle Parker’s works are powerful reminders of pre-contact and continuing connection to Country. - Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, Aunty Lois Birk and artist Frances Belle Parker

Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker

UAP's workshop in Brisbane, Australia

UAP workshop in Brisbane, Australia

'Whale Songs' 2022 and 'Oyster Shells - Middens' 2022

Belle Parker worked with UAP’s Design Assist team to develop the artworks concepts for the council’s design competition. Upon award of the commission, Belle Parker continued to develop the artwork which included two community engagement sessions. Made within UAP's Australian foundry workshop, the casting patterns of Belle Parker's oyster shells were milled by the KUKA robot. The engravings featured within the cavity of the shells were refined by UAP's pattern-making team, before being cast in aluminium.

Public artworks such as these by Frances Bell Parker, are significant to the recognition of First Nations connections and histories. Her work embeds culture and the layered stories of place into the broader consciousness through a public artwork that people can interact with in their daily experiences.

This is an amazing opportunity to be able to create public artwork that tells a deeper part of the coastline’s story. Through engagement with the Northern Beaches Aboriginal community, I hope we can tell stories that are relevant, as well as convey the underlying messages of the country and the people who walked this land before us.- Frances Belle Parker

Click here for more information on this project.

Images courtesy of the artist, Northern Beaches Council, Rachel See and UAP.

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