This project is an exciting new commission opportunity in Western Sydney for a large-scale wall-work in the front room of I.C.E. in Parramatta. The I.C.E. Front Room will be a bi-annual project with each wall-work exhibited to the public for up to 24 months.
The inaugural Front Room commission is led by artist Shay Tobin from Boorooberongal clan of the Dharug Nation.
Burramatta Badu depicts the Parramatta River, a place of great importance to Tobin’s community, the Dharug people:
“The water recently known as Parramatta River runs through the history of the Dharug. This river first cut its way into the sandstone and shale valley 15-29 million years before it was named. The people who first lived from the river saw Burramatta “- the place of the eels” as a meeting place. The fresh water and salt water people met here by following the waters. Now this place is known as Parramatta, and still used as a place of meeting for the many cultures of Sydney.”
Burramatta Badu maps the Parramatta River across Dharug country from the east, where salt water comes in, then westwards into the Blue Mountains. As well as stylised abstractions of geographical features, Burramatta Badu includes two local plants: the grass tree and pink flannel flowers, both symbols of renewal and repair.
“The 2019 bushfires devastated the land and then Covid-19 devastated society but the resilience of both the land and its people holds true. Those who have been to fire torn locations shortly after the fires would behold a miracle in the bright yellows and greens of the grass trees shooting out of their charcoal stumps. In history, the shaft of spears was made from the stems of grass trees and the leaves used as fire starters, a tool for caring for country.”
Shay Tobin is an artist, photographer and student whose interest in mathematics and physics in the environment and natural world informs his artistic practice. His recent work and exhibitions include Ngaliya Diyam, The Granville Centre and Bush Country Voices, co-curated by Western Sydney Parklands, City People and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. Growing up as a member of the Boorooberongal clan of the Dharug Nation of Western Sydney, in a family of artists, he is influenced by connections to land, family and what it means to be living in Australia today.
This work was made possible by Create NSW through Rescue and Restart funding.
Image: Shay Tobin, Burramatta Badu, photographed by Alicia Scott 2021.