In a historic local moment, International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) has become the first convention centre in Australia to launch a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), bolstering its ongoing commitment to recognise and celebrate the cultures, practices and traditions of Australia’s First Nations within the venue and the events it hosts, and leading the way in its sector.
As part of the launch, a newly commissioned artwork titled Gadigal, Acknowledgement Respect, by esteemed Ngemba artist and Boomalli Aboriginal Artist’s Cooperative founding co-member Jeffrey Samuels, has been unveiled at the premier venue.
Samuels’ work tells the story of how Australia’s First People are connected to this part of Sydney Harbour. Acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, both past and present, the artwork depicts various flora, shells and animals of significance around the harbour foreshore including the whale, a totem of the Gadigal clan.
‘The central image is the Cadigal tree that was utilised by the Gadigal people for making spears shafts and obtaining resin to attach spear points to their spear shafts,’ explains Samuels. ‘In the painting are just a few animals and plants and shells that would have been in abundance in the Darling Harbour location, in the harbour waters, in the sea in Gadigal Country which was recorded in journals by the English.’
Displayed prominently across external doors of the venue, the artwork will officially welcome millions of international and interstate visitors annually and further embed acknowledgement of Indigenous heritage and positive awareness.
In 1984, Samuels participated in Koori Art ’84 at Artspace, Sydney, one of the seminal exhibitions that marked the emergence of the urban Aboriginal artists’ movement in Australia. In 2000 he was commissioned to recreate a painting for the Nature Segment of the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and designed the State of NSW’s official logo the ‘Waratah’.
His work is held in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Flinders University, the Australian Museum and the National Museum of Australia.