Getting square

• Wandandi artist Sandra Hill’s concept for the Wellington Square Stolen Generations reflective artwork.

NOONGAR artist Sandra Hill has been selected to create a new Wellington Square artwork acknowledging the Stolen Generations.

Part of the square upgrades, the work will replace the Sorry Pole which was unveiled by the Bringing Them Home Committee in 2006 for the Sorry Day held there each May 26.

The Bringing Them Home Committee was brought in to consult on the replacement, and along with Stolen Generations advocacy group Yokai they’ve been interviewing survivors and their families about what they’d like to see there.

Jim Morrison (from both Yokai and BTHC) says it’s an important spot for the Whadjuk Noongar who’d lived there for thousands of years when it was a wetland, and it’s “considered a safe meeting place, with many spiritual links and memories”.

Perth city council received tenders from three artists, and with input from elders Perth commissioners chose the Sandra Hill work.

Hill is a member of the Stolen Generations and says she knows first hand the “grief, loss and heartbreak from having had that experience”.

She said in a statement: “I also understand what it’s like to survive that experience and the things that you hold forever in your heart. I understand what needs to be said through art.”

Hill was born in Perth in 1951. At seven years old she was taken from her parents and placed in Sister Kate’s Orphanage, then at nine she was fostered by a white family. 

After 27 years she was reunited with her mum, a Ballardong and Wilmen Nyoongar, and her dad, who was a Wadandi and Minang Noongar. 

Her art is based on “mias”, or homes, and incomplete mias representing regions of WA around a Whadjuk Noongar centrepiece of red-tailed black cockatoo feathers.

The incomplete mias will be made whole by bushes growing around and through their latticing, representing restoration. 

The $483,800 artwork will be funded through the council’s Public Art Reserve, made up of developer “Per Cent for Art” contributions and the council’s own yearly deposit.

It’s scheduled to be finished and installed March 2021. 

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