Gathering Circle takes shape at wonguim wilam
by SANDI MILLER
10th October 2023
VISITORS TO wonguim wilam will notice a stunning new installation, with the completion of a Gathering Circle as the first part of an Indigenous art installation at the riverside park.
The work, by prominent Melbourne-based fine artist, muralist and creative, Simone Thomson, will be installed this year and includes an entrance sculpture and Gathering Circle.
This new addition highlights the significance of the area to Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people and reflects the preservation of culture.
“The Gathering Circle is a place where community comes to connect with one another.
“This is how our oral history has been passed on for thousands of generations,” said Simone.
The gathering circle takes advantage of sightline across to the Birrarung and is three metres in diameter, to invite the community to come together.
Edged by stone seating the gathering circle is organic in form and features Simone’s intricate design in stone and paint, mirroring the natural palette of the surrounding environment and reflecting on themes of country, culture and community.
A sculpture will be installed during the summer months, making up the second part of Simone’s artwork at wonguim wilam.
Simone is a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Yorta-Yorta Traditional Owner through her mother, and her art is inspired by her, “spiritual connection to Country and the rich colours and textures of the earth and sky”.
Simone said, “In the Aboriginal way, the Gathering Circle or meeting place is a place where community comes to connect with one another, to sit down and discuss cultural business and family matters and to learn and share stories.”
“This is how our oral history has been passed on for thousands of generations — by facing one another with respect and hearing our songlines and men’s and women’s business from our Elders, our knowledge holders and leaders who are our teachers.”
Simone added that the Gathering Circle would represent the importance of community and the preservation of cultural practices significant to the oldest continuous culture on Earth.
“It will be a place of reflection on country and offer a peaceful connection to the lands and waterways in which it sits along the beautiful Birrarung, the river of mist and shadows.”
Manningham Mayor, Cr Deirdre Diamante, touched on the significance of stories to public art.
“When it comes to public art, it’s so important that we consider the works’ appearance within the context of what inspired it and the story it is telling.
“Through the Gathering Circle, Simone is extending the whole community an open invitation to come together, connect and reflect on the incredible cultural significance of Warrandyte.
“This art is also functional and immersive, providing a special place for residents and visitors to do just that,” the Mayor added.
The entrance sculpture will be in the form of a boomerang to be installed in the coming months.
It will be situated at the entrance of the park and standing tall from hand carved cedar pine, the boomerang sculpture will welcome all visitors to wonguim wilam while also acting as an invitation to return as visitors depart.
Photos: CHARLIE KINROSS
Council conducted the commission in consultation with Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.
Find out more about the work at www.manningham.vic.gov.au/news/wonguim-wilam-public-art-commission.