Deborah Bonar created this major public art commission for Australand in collaboration with two other artists, Wendy Hayden and Joanna Robertson. The artists’ team created stunning contemporary artwork comprising of seven separate pieces, reproduced in glass and installed in locations around the new estate at Port Coogee. The project included relocating and transplanting mature grass trees as living sculptures and it was completed in 2013.
public art and commissions
Australand - Port Coogee-Beeliar Boodjar
Beeliar Boodjar (approx size 5200 x 4460mm)
This represents Beeliar Boodjar, the traditional country of the Beeliar people, which is now called the City of Cockburn. There were sixteen major campsites in the area, with ancient trails and trade routes linking the estuary and the freshwater wetlands. The wetlands are a rich source of food and medicine. The area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the Nyoongar people.
Regeneration (approx size 1700 x 1400mm)
The bush comes alive with the wind whipping through branches, carrying the pods and seeds from burnt trees and plants. Insects and birds sing with joy. When the flowers are yellow the kangaroos are fat. This is the best time for hunting. Flowers, fruits and berries signal when certain animals and fish are plentiful.
Hazy Summer (approx size 1800 x 1538mm)
During the searing heat of summer the skies are hazy and the lakes are dry. Small creatures, insects, lizards, snakes and other reptiles are moving about foraging to survive. They leave tracks across the dry lake beds in their constant search for water.
Gathering (approx size 1860 x 1853mm)
Aboriginal families and Elders gathered around the campfire to share food and pass on cultural knowledge, teach respect, discipline and caring for country. It is a place for laughter, yarning and settling disputes.
The Wetlands in Spring (approx size 2600 x 1962mm)
In spring the wetlands abound with yabbies, turtles, wild fowl and eggs for the Beeliar people. They hunt kangaroos and other small animals which foraged nearby. The blues and smoky greens represent the steamy, smouldering wetlands and surrounding woodlands.
Shallow Waters (approx size 3025 x 2577mm)
Sand and shallow waters, filtered light, white shells, ribbons of seaweed, splashes of turquoise. The gentle rippling of waves over little fishes, crustaceans and stinger tentacles. The shallow waters are a gathering place for families to enjoy splashing, swimming and fishing in the summer heat.
Crossing Cockburn Sound (approx size 3600 x 2492mm)
This represents Cockburn Sound: The ripples on the surface, gentle breeze, reflections and patterns. Beneath the surface the water teems with marine life, coral spawning in the ocean current, jellyfish, shoals of fish, prawns and crabs.
The artwork provides an interpretive story of the Nyoongar people's culture and historic use of Beeliar Boodjar, and their strong connection to land, water and nature.
The Beeliar Wetlands were of great importance to the Nyoongar people. They provided an abundance of food, medicinal plants and resources for shelter and for tools, spears, and other implements. They contained significant ancient trade routes used by Aboriginal people from different parts of Australia.
The artwork represents the movement of Nyoongar people. It represents the changing seasons, the land and the sea, the wetlands and woodlands and all the creatures who inhabit Beeliar Boodjar.