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Indigenous sculpture park

Deanne and Tammy Gilson perform a cleanising of the site ceremony at new North Gardens sculpture park.

A Smoking ceremony, to mark the start of the new North Gardens sculpture park and cleansing of the site, took place last Friday to mark a new Indigenous sculpture park at Lake Wendouree’s North Gardens.

The City of Ballarat recently engaged a team to consult with the community on the design for the sculpture park, as well as helping to identify themes, stories, and sites for public art commissions and a new Wadawurrung name for the site.

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.

The sculptural park project 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 as an inclusive centre of community life, while protecting its character, views, trees and environmental functions.

The master plan included a recommendation to implement the Resting Place Sculpture Trail in the North Gardens wetlands area, which was widely supported by community participants, local residents and an expert panel involved in the consultation phases.

The new sculpture park will be located at North Gardens, Lake Wendouree and will feature work of Indigenous artists.

Wadawurrung artist Deanne Gilson said the park would be used by herself and her immediate family as a special place to perform their ceremonies and embrace their culture.

“It will once again come alive with the spirit of Bunjil and our ancestors, making a safe and inclusive environment for not only Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people but for all who visit,” Ms Gilson said.

“In the mid 1850s, on the land to the right of here (near Loreto College) across from Lake Wendouree, a special corroboree was performed by all the Kulin mobs.

“This new space will become an important link to the old corroboree as a place where we can connect to our past and provide a healing environment for my people now and into the future.” City of Ballarat Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh said the new sculpture park would be an exciting addition to the City.

“The opportunity to bring little ones, families and to be able to share and educate us as well is something we absolutely look forward to,” she said.