Frances Belle Parker commissioned for Coast Walk Public Art Program

Northern Beaches

Council is pleased to announce artist and proud Yaegl woman Frances Belle Parker has been selected for the Aboriginal Art & Storytelling Project, the first major commission for the Coast Walk Public Art Program.

The Northern Beaches Coast Walk spans 36km of coastline between Manly and Palm Beach as a continuous path that passes beachfronts, spectacular headlands, residential communities, and coastal villages.

Mayor Michael Regan said Council was thrilled to have Frances Belle Parker create work for the Project.

“It is a significant project that celebrates Aboriginal culture and connects people to the landscape, to each other and to the past, present and future.

“We are excited to see how Frances’ artwork will develop and respond to Aboriginal culture, the local community and natural surrounds of our extensive coastline.

“Her project will enrich Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people’s experience of the region, without compromising environmentally fragile and culturally sensitive sites.”

For the Aboriginal Art & Storytelling project, Council invited Aboriginal artists to submit proposals for a series of contemporary public artworks and visual storytelling systems to highlight the significance of Aboriginal culture and place along the Coast Walk.

The project also intends to promote awareness of Aboriginal places and stories among the broader public.

Frances Belle Parker is from Maclean, New South Wales. She is deeply inspired by her Mother’s land (Yaegl land) and the Island in the Clarence River that her Mother grew up on, Ulgundahi Island.

“This is an amazing opportunity to be able to create public artwork that tells a deeper part of the coastline’s story,” Frances said.

“Through engagement with the Northern Beaches Aboriginal community, I hope we can tell stories that are relevant as well as convey the underlying messages of the country and the people who walked this land before us.”

“I plan to explore the themes of middens and the whale songlines through the artwork.

“I’ll also be using some elements of my cousin’s work, the late Jessica Birk, who lived on the Northern Beaches and loved everything about it. In a sense the work becomes a tribute to the amazing artist she was.”

Frances has been a practising artist for the last 20 years coming to prominence after winning the Blake Prize in 2000, making her the youngest ever winner and the first Indigenous recipient in the prize’s history.

Since then she has exhibited nationally and internationally, undertaken art residencies in China and Andorra and worked on several public art projects.

Frances completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts through UNSW, and a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) and a Masters of Indigenous Studies (Wellbeing) both through Southern Cross University.

Most recently Frances designed and screened her digital work Angwirri on the sails of the Sydney Opera House on 26 January 2021.

Frances is working with UAP Australia, and with independent curator Tess Allas, to realise this project.

Frances’ artwork is currently in the design development stage. She is engaging with local Aboriginal stakeholders and communities and aims to finish the artwork in 2022.

The sites for the artworks will be determined during the consultation phase.

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