Breaking ground in Capel

Artist Jenny Dawson and elder Sandra Hill show off the new Indigenous design for the Capel/Coolingup Police Station to district superintendant Geoff Stewart and sergeant Gerard Murphy. Photo by James Longman.

A FREMANTLE ceramic artist and her long-time Noongar collaborator have created history by helping design WA’s first police station to acknowledge pre-colonial history.

The new Capel Police Station, which was opened by premier Mark McGowan this week, has a public artwork recognising the area’s Indigenous name Coolingup, as well as an image of Noongar people in a traditional camp.

The artwork, named Mallokup: Shadows of their Spirits, was designed by J-Shed artist Jenny Dawson and Balingup elder Sandra Hill.

Ms Hill said she saw the work as a gesture of reconciliation as well as an artwork.

“This artwork embraces the rich natural environment, the Capel River and the Wadandi people and country; it is a visual story that would be embraced and enjoyed by not only other South West Bibbulmun people, but also the Capel community and visitors to the South West corner of our state,” Ms Hill said.

“I chose to offer the local community a glimpse of how it may have been before the town was built, when the Capel River wended its way through the land and gave the soil in the area its richness.”

The pair have collaborated on many public artworks, including the Yagan Memorial Park and the water playground at Elizabeth Quay.

“This landmark artwork is another collaboration between Sandra Hill and I to celebrate 20 years of working on public art projects together from the J-Shed in Fremantle,” Ms Dawson said.

“It celebrates our work as artists to forward the cause of reconciliation in Western Australia.”

Capel was originally named Coolingup when the first town lots were sold in 1897, but it only stuck for two years before being Anglicised.

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