Munday Swamp, part of the airport site, is one of the most significant archaeological sites in South Western Australia, dating Aboriginal occupation here for at least 38,000 years. It was traditionally a site for turtle fishing and an Aboriginal meeting place by the Whadjuk people. It remains a significant place for indigenous, international and local travelers to meet and connect. This installation is intended to respect the origins and custodians of the land and drawing attention to the cross-culture commonalities and connection through the celestial and terrestrial.
The stars have long been a source of connecting people and place as a navigational tool and through cultural and spiritual story-telling. Remarkably, the constellation of ‘Orion’ and ‘Pleiades’ are commonly referred to as ‘the hunter and the seven sisters’ across large expanses of time and cultures, including Australian Aboriginals and is represented through light in this acoustic art installation.
The artwork also features representations of the unique and now rare fauna, the crowned snake /Moyoop, oblong turtle /Booyi and the red-tailed black cockatoo/Karrak. The environmental phenomenon of fractal geometry visible in the transition from earth to sky over the Western Australian landscape is reflected in the fractal geometric patterning and disparate scales of the represented elements and perforations.
In simultaneously representing the uniqueness of this place and the common connection between all people through the stars, the artwork aims to connect the passing visitors of the current day to the traditional owners and its ancient land. The white, rear acoustic panel reads:
‘At night again and again my elders used to tell us dreamtime stories, they used to show us the stars…’ by Doolann Leisha Eatts (nee Garlett Yarran)* A Whudjuk/ Piblemnan/Nyungah woman elder (2014).
*Doolann Leisha Eatts is a well-respected elder that tells the stories of her people that are millennia old, as well as that of her ancestor’s direct contact with the first Europeans to sail the Swan River/Derbarl Yerrigan. The text was commissioned by the artist for inclusion in the artwork.
This public artwork was commissioned by the Perth Airport Pty. Ltd and the art consultants were FORM. Perth Airport entered into a Partnership Agreement with the Traditional Custodians of the land and other members of the Nyungah community in 2009, in a spirit of cooperation and commitment to the ongoing development of Perth Airport and acknowledging and fostering cultural heritage. This project was completed in consultation with the Partnership Group.