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Public artwork at Prince of Wales Hospital celebrates symbol of welcome

A major public art project titled ‘Gum leaves’ now welcomes visitors at the forecourt of the new Prince of Wales Hospital Acute Services Building at Randwick.  

The artwork serves as a welcoming symbol to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal visitors, embodying the essence of continued culture on country. 

Created by Dr Peter Yanada McKenzie (Eora/Anaiwan), a respected artist and Elder from the La Perouse Aboriginal Community, together with leading artist Jonathan Jones (Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi), the artwork features sandblasted pavers etched with intricate outlines of gum leaves.  

The design mimics the bush floor, creating the impression of leaves scattered across the forecourt, as if fallen from above or remnants of an ancestral ceremony. 

In Dr McKenzie’s words, “To be made ‘welcome’ in terms of Aboriginal cultural practice is a significant act of mutual acceptance. The use of Australian native gumtree leaves, as used in our traditional Welcome to Country smoking ceremonies, is a magnificent symbolic gesture as a ‘welcoming device’ to the hospital’s visitors.”  

The project was commissioned by Health Infrastructure on behalf of the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, supported by a multi-disciplinary team and the Randwick Campus Redevelopment Arts & Culture Committee. 

‘Gum leaves’ is part of a series of three unique art and heritage displays at the main entrance of the new Acute Services Building. These displays aim to provide a true reflection and celebration of the enduring connection to country, while also enhancing the hospital’s commitment to community engagement and patient well-being. 

The new Acute Services Building includes a range of arts experiences on the theme of ‘STORYTELLING: Yarns and Tales’, offering a narrative of people and place. Visitors can explore a range of artworks, historical and archaeological displays that celebrate the local area and its strong connection to country. 

For more information, visit the project website.

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