New public art for Bunbury's shoreline

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Wardandi Boodja, a five and a half metre steel bust is the latest piece of public art to be installed in Bunbury.

The sculpture has been 12 months in the making and has been scheduled for completion in early 2019 at Koombana Foreshore.

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

The duo were also the creative minds behind the Bridging the Gap artwork located near the rowing club at the Leschenault Inlet as well as an installation at the Brittain Road roundabout created with Edith Cowan University students.

The completed sculpture will represent a Noongar face and seeks to merge traditional sculpture and advanced fabrication technology to create a striking contemporary artwork that pays deep respect to the Noongar people.

The Mickles consulted with various families in the region to ensure the image was accurate. Their 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.”

In order to have an accurate representation a number of molds were made and were then adapted to create a life-size maquette or model.

This was then 3D scanned and used as the basis for constructing the large corten steel sculpture.

The artists said it was a fascinating process and they learnt many stories along the way. 

“There are statements to white settlement and history all over Bunbury,” Mrs Mickle 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 all the 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,” Mayor 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 early January.

The official unveiling of the sculpture will be taking place in the New Year.