Sculpture to make a statement

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
VideoWardandi Boodja at Koombana Bay

The new-look Koombana Bay will make an even bigger splash when artists finish installing the latest piece of public art at the foreshore.

Wardandi Boodja is a five-and-half-metre steel bust sculpture representing a Noongar face and South West families.

Commissioned by the City of Bunbury and funded by the State Government’s Royalty for Regions, the sculpture is the work of local artists Alex and Nicole Mickle of Safehaven Studios alongside design engineer Mike Kimble.

Koombana Bay’s Wardandi Boodja.
Camera IconKoombana Bay’s Wardandi Boodja. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

The structure has been 12 months in the making and the artwork started getting installed on Friday.

The artists consulted with various families in the region to ensure the image was accurate and the duo’s concept was to demonstrate that the face was “no one’s yet everyone’s at the same time”.

“The sculpture has been purposefully designed in such a way as to recognise all the families of this region,” Mrs Mickle said.

“A comprehensive study of historical photographs dating from the 1870s to the early 1900s, coupled with contemporary images and faces of Noongar people has enabled us to create an image of a generic Noongar man.

“Not one person, but all people.”

Koombana Bay’s Wardandi Boodja.
Camera IconKoombana Bay’s Wardandi Boodja. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

The structure was made a using life-size maquette model and 3D scanner in a process Mrs Mickle said was fascinating and educational.

“There are statements to white settlement and history all over Bunbury,” she said.

“It is time to recognise one of the oldest cultures on the planet.

“This is our shared history and to put it lightly, not all of it is pretty.

“The sculpture reflects the resilience and spirit of a proud Noongar man and stands as a reminder to visitors and locals alike that Noongar culture is vibrant and strong.

“We all live here together on Wardandi saltwater country and we celebrate this.”

Mayor Gary Brennan said the artwork would become an iconic piece for the whole community to enjoy.

“We are excited for the installation of what is sure to become a talking point and tourist attraction for locals as well as visitors to Bunbury,” Mr Brennan said.

“It’s location along the main entry point to the CBD further activates what is already a popular area and provides a culturally appropriate and significant entry statement to the city.”

The lighting and interpretive signage component – written in collaboration with the Noongar community of Bunbury and local writer Donna Mazza – will be installed in early January.

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