Newcastle Exchange Public Artwork: permanent cultural installation at Newcastle Interchange

illuminart were engaged by Doma Group to develop a public art installation which brought together important First Nation cultural placemaking objectives with permanent sculpture, lighting, projection and animation.

The project commenced in June 2020 with consultation with Elders of the Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Group. Local language expert,  Luke Russell, was appointed as the cultural director for the project supported by Jasmine Craciun, an Aboriginal graphic designer and mural artist, who worked collaboratively with illuminart’s Cultural and Digital Art team.

The architectural feature, designed to ornament and illuminate the north western soffit of the office building at 6 Stewart Avenue, Newcastle West, was inspired by traditional stories and important engravings known to cultural custodians.

The symbolism of every element of the work is based on important cultural knowledge directed by Luke Russell on behalf of the traditional owners. In particular, the two eels which form the key sculptural elements, represent Balance – an essential part of local lore – through their position (east-west/north-south), gender (male / female), habitat (saltwater/freshwater) and the stories they represent. The two eels, which incorporate symbolic lighting cycles and mural art, face towards the North west corner of the building which at night, illuminates with a projection cycle of First Nation ceremonial art that synchronises the projection and lighting.

The projection interacts with the central circular part of the mural and uses this throughout the animation for various story elements, eg acting as a corroboree ground, the moon, and the head of the guin character. LED lighting along the eel structures correspond to parts of the story for example, glowing orange to enhance the fire lighting sequence, and the illumination of the animals painted along the eels as they are called to the corroboree ground.

The new public artwork was officially launched on the 15th of June 2021 and will light up the the Multi-modal bus interchange for years to come, linking pedestrians to two other significant First Nation artworks in this precinct.

Beyond the launch date, Luke and the art team plan to evolve the work further, expanding it with a combination of several stories from the man in the moon, to the story of the seven sisters, and how equality was given to the people.

    • Luke Russell Cultural Director
    • Jasmine Craciun Graphic Designer / Mural Artist
    • Verity Brookes Team Leader
    • Mark Leacy Project Coordinator (Technical)
    • Alice Peacock Animator
    • Craig Laurendet Installation Architect
    • Cindi Drennan Projection Specialist
    • Andy McIntyre Installation Specialist
    • A Class Engineering Fabricator
  • Project ID # 1239