Families, staff and visitors to the RCH will now be welcomed by two new artworks, which have been created by First Nations Artists. Celebrate. Create. Connect. The RCH150 Aboriginal Art Project was officially launched on Thursday 27th May 2021 as part of National Reconciliation Week to create a lasting legacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Commissioned by the RCH Foundation in recognition of the hospital’s 150th anniversary, the Aboriginal Art Project features the work of three artists and has been made possible through the generosity of Mr Ken Harrison AM KSJ and Mrs Jill Harrison OAM DSJ, with support from Peter and Sylvia Stach via the Debbie Stach Memorial Gift Fund.
Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara artist Elizabeth Close and Wurundjeri/Dja Dja Wurrung artist Samantha Roberts have collaborated to create a four-story mural on the north facade of the hospital’s building at 48 Flemington Road.
TOGETHER is inspired by the connection to country, culture, community, place and space that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have, and the impact this has on individual wellness. These concepts are enmeshed within Indigenous personhood.
TOGETHER celebrates collaboration. The partnership between the artists behind this work reflects a whole-of-service relationship that underpins the care for every child and family at the RCH.
Yamatji artist Robyne Latham‘s burnished-bronze sculpture LEAF, has taken up residence in the Northern Court of the hospital, creating a space of cultural inclusion within the hospital gardens.
LEAF celebrates 150 years of the RCH and the ongoing care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families. The patternation of the sculpture references the diversity of Australia’s First Nation cultures, through the vibrant circularity of the seasons, from the past to the future, while embracing the now.
LEAF is dedicated to those who have deeply listened to, and heard, each other.
To discover more about the participating artists and the stories behind their design inspiration, click here.
Bebe Backhouse, a Bardi Jawi man and Director of RCH150, believes this landmark project will strengthen the connection between Indigenous communities and the RCH.
“It is important for all Australians to recognise and acknowledge the special relationships that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with our traditional land and waters, as well as our history, diverse cultures and customs. In this spirit, the presence of Indigenous art and culture at the hospital is of significant value.” said Bebe.
“This project allows the hospital and the RCH Foundation to continue to grow and strengthen its relationships with Indigenous communities across the country, while promoting the importance of good health in a culturally safe environment.”
Sue Hunt, Chief Executive Officer, the RCH Foundation, said the project is visual recognition that the RCH and the RCH Foundation are committed to being a place where all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are welcome.
“It is important that we acknowledge the integral roles Indigenous people have played in the history of our country and ensure that we maintain respect and inclusion across our services so that we can improve the health and wellbeing of our entire community,” said Sue.
“The RCH Foundation is excited and humbled to gift these artworks to the hospital, as symbols of healing and connection to the land, community and culture.”
John Stanway, Chief Executive Officer, the RCH, believes the landmark project will strengthen the connection between the RCH and First Nations patients and their families.
“Aboriginal culture is essential to the RCH. This project helps to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to improving health outcomes and strengthening connections with our First Nations communities.
“The RCH is dedicated to ensuring Indigenous children and young people have equitable access to the best possible healthcare – regardless of where they live. It is important for all of us that First Nations culture and identity is always acknowledged at the hospital and that we never lose sight of our pursuit to close the gap on healthcare equality,” said John.
The RCH150 Aboriginal Art Project was made possible thanks to the support of Mr Ken Harrison AM KSJ and Mrs Jill Harrison OAM DSJ, who generously supported the project.
The couple are encouraging others to follow their sense of social responsibility towards Australia’s Indigenous people. The RCH
Foundation is immensely grateful for the ongoing contributions of the Harrisons, which you can read more about here.
In bringing the project to life, the RCH Foundation was guided by a dedicated committee of Indigenous leaders, co-chaired by Aunty Joy Murphy AO, Senior Wurundjeri Elder, and N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM, Senior Boonwurrung Elder.
The RCH and RCH Foundation acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are located and respect all Aboriginal Australians while honouring their cultural and spiritual relationships to the lands and waters. The RCH and RCH Foundation acknowledge the artists who committed their time, talent and connection to country in creating art that will leave a significant cultural legacy for our hospital and community.