New public art headed to Footscray

Artwork that symbolises the Aboriginal Welcome to Country will be installed at the intersection of Nicholson and Paisley streets this winter.

The artwork is titled wominjeka tarnuk yooroom, which translates to ‘welcome bowl’ (coolamon) in both Boonwurrung and Gunditjmara languages. Created by high profile Indigenous artists Maree Clarke and Vicki Couzens with Jeph Neale and Hilary Jackman, the installation is designed to offer a welcome to residents, recently arrived migrants, refugees and visitors to the area.

The installation will be created with bluestone boulders, which will be placed to give the appearance of a large scale buried coolamon emerging from the land.

The coolamon is used in Welcome to Country ceremonies to hold coal and ashes. Eucalyptus, wattle or cherry balart foliage is laid over the coal to create aromatic smoke which is said to be the elemental manifestation of the Ancestral spirits who cleanse, purify and recognise those being welcomed.

Mist spray will be emitted from the rocks when the temperature reaches 25 degrees to symbolise the purifying smoke, and the boulders will be shaped into seating to offer passers-by a place of reflection.