Local artist Deanne Gilson will begin installing her public artwork as part of the new sculpture park at North Gardens on Monday.
In July last year, Deanne was announced as the first artist to be commissioned at the North Gardens site as part of the sculpture park project – a project that coincides with the Lake Wendouree Master Plan, a 20-year strategic plan for the future of Lake Wendouree which supports the activation of the precinct.
It is the first project to be delivered as part of the Lake Wendouree Master Plan.
The City of Ballarat, in consultation with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners and local Indigenous representatives, initiated the sculpture park project in 2017 to help identify and educate the community about the significance of Lake Wendouree to local Indigenous residents.
This project also strongly aligns with the Creative City Strategy and accompanying precinct plan which set a vision for new public artwork to be focussed around telling local stories.
Deanne’s piece, which has been inspired by real-lived experience of her ancestors, will be the first to be installed at the site.
Her sculpture, which is intended to become a ceremonial place, will feature a traditional hut made from river stone and stacked rocks.
“We are doing 10 large basalt rocks and they will be in a circle, like a corroboree site. In the middle will be a traditional hut and we will have that painted inside with ochre and we will get the elders to put their handprints on, so it marks that they have been here,” Deanne explained.
“It is a contemporary sculpture but it links to the traditional stone circle.
“Before white man came to Ballarat my ancestors used stones to mark places of ceremony and important business. The stones are the holders of memory and knowledge, Country and Spirit. They mark the cosmos and seasons. They follow the sun, marking the summer and winter solstice, important dates in our calendar, for planting and harvesting and tell the history of our past, present and future.
“The stones are alive and still present. I have used the basalt stones of my Country to tell our story, Wathaurung stories of dreaming, memory, men and women’s business.
“An Aboriginal stone circle used to exist in Ballarat pre-colonisation, by putting back what was lost throughout colonisation, I pay homage to my ancestors, past, present and emerging”.
Deanne added that each stone will have a plaque that she is making out of clay, and each has a symbol on it – things like the summer and winter solstice, the sun, moon, mountains, water, their totems Bunjil and Waa, and a black swan.
The rocks will also be connected through a river of pebbles, representing the waterways and Lake Wendouree.
“I want this to be a really quiet place where you can just walk and reflect,” she said.
“Starting tomorrow we have 14 days to roll it out and will come back in March to install the hut and the plaques – so it’s in two phases.
“The stones and the landscaping will be done in the next two weeks.”
Deanne is pleased to have her father Barry and son Blair on board to assist.
Barry will help on site and Blair, who works for the Wauthaurung Corporation is Deanne’s cultural advisor and will report back to the corporation.
The City says it is intended the North Gardens will become a place for education, ceremony, storytelling, skills development or demonstration, and contemplation.
Further public art commissions are yet to be announced.
This installation will commence on Monday 4 February, and is due for completion on Friday 15 February. An opening event will be held on Saturday 23 March 2019.