12 May 2021

Reconciliation artworks for new ACT Government offices

| Ian Bushnell
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ACT Government offices

The new ACT Government offices in Civic at Constitution Place. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Two new public artworks will grace the the ACT Government’s new office buildings in Civic and Dickson in a symbolic reset of relations with the Territory’s First Nations peoples.

Major Projects Canberra has contracted multi-national urban art consultancy UAP until mid-November to engage with the sites’ Traditional Custodians and other First Nations peoples in the ACT to plan and design concepts for the artworks.

A government spokesperson said UAP would also assist in the fabrication and installation of the artworks in close consultation with First Nations peoples.

“This important project forms part of the government’s Reconciliation Action Plan; to ensure visibility of the ACT Government’s commitment to reconciliation in the new ACT Government office buildings in Civic and Dickson,” the spokesperson said.

“The intent of the works will be to ensure there is an enduring acknowledgement to country within the ACT Public Service and to highlight active reconciliation within the community.”

light rail station artwork

Hannah Quinlivan’s elaborately connected designs on a light rail station window. Photo: UAP.

The Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate’s three-year Reconciliation Action Plan released in April last year called on the Directorate to consult with the Traditional Owners to develop an engagement plan to acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal Peoples, in the two new buildings through art and design, video/digital forms and the Ngunnawal language.

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It also committed to implementing a co-design project to develop Ngunnawal People’s visual art and design elements to go with the fit-out design of the buildings and incorporate them in the new offices.

“We look forward to working on this important reconciliation project to acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of the ACT,” the spokesperson said.

Public art has a checkered history in the ACT with some members of the community and the Opposition questioning the cost and some of the artworks’ worth.

UAP, which offers a range of services from consulting to design through to the actual fabrication in the workshop, will be paid $262,000 for the project.

It has already assisted in three ACT projects – Hannah Quinlivan’s web-like light rail station designs for Canberra Metro, Judy Watson’s fire and water in Reconciliation Place near Questacon, and Dennis Nona’s Ubirikubiri, a 3.6m bronze crocodile with a man on its back, at the National Gallery of Australia.

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