Articulating Sydney’s Aboriginal Past in the Public Realm, with Matt Poll

Wednesday 13 October 2021, 4–5pm

Join us for the next talk in the First Nations Speaker Series, a collaboration between the Research Centre for Deep History, GML Heritage, and Sydney Living Museums.

Register to join the online talk and learn more.

Along Australia’s east coast, Greater Sydney is unique, with over 800 known Aboriginal rock engraving sites recorded across Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park alone, each containing multiple motifs and designs denoting a rich artistic vocabulary. Being one of the largest outdoor Aboriginal art sites remaining on the east coast of Australia, Sydney rock engraving galleries are a testament to the rich artistic tradition of the Aboriginal cultural landscape. This heritage stands as a signpost of the role of public art as a teaching and learning tool. Cultural revitalisation projects using knowledge gleaned from a myriad of historical sources present challenges for Sydney’s Aboriginal community when rearticulating these forms of knowledge today.

Hybrid amorphous rock engraving at Ku-ring-gai Chase National park

How do artists and community representatives work with commissioning agencies to develop authentic and ethical interpretation of historical knowledge regarding Aboriginal Sydney’s lands, waters and skies? The imperative of authenticity against artistic adaptation is increasingly at the intersection of developing a new language incorporated into Sydney’s architecture, landmarks and social spaces. As some arts practices and historical knowledge evolve into large-scale commercial enterprise, the importance of protecting cultural intellectual property involves deeper communication between historians, community representatives, artists and academics.

In this presentation Matt Poll will reflect on new additions, and historically significant examples of where consulting with Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities’ representatives has built consultation frameworks and templates for increasing the visibility of Sydney’s Aboriginal past into future place-based projects in Sydney’s built environment.

Matt Poll.

Matt Poll is the newly appointed manager of Indigenous programs at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Register to join the online talk here.