Integral to Eden Unearthed: Art in the Gardens is acknowledgment of First Nations People. We have actively sort to encourage indigenous arts over the years, and have been lucky enough to have worked with Shannon Foster, D'harawal eora Knowledge Keeper and
ORALRA registered Traditional Owner. As part of this year’s exhibition, a large Welcome to Country sign is positioned at the entrance to the exhibition. The words, penned by Shannon Foster are as follows:
Many Songlines are embedded here on this Country that is now home to Eden Gardens. Country here has been shaped by water; Garigalo (saltwater), Nattaigalo (freshwater) and Biddigalo (sourwater) etch and mould the landscape, creating abundant ecologies that will sustainably shelter, provide and regenerate long into the future. On high Country here, ceremony is performed and in the deep valleys, women care for the freshwater and medicine lore. For millennia water has brought people together here for trade, ceremony and kinship responsibilities. This water Country knows how to heal, protect and provide and we carry this enduring spirit into the future as we work with Country.
We honour and pay respect to the Ancestors, Elders and descendants of our kinship system here including the D’harawal, Dharug, Gai-mariagal, GuriNgai and Gundungarra peoples, among many others. It is through the Ancestral knowledges and stories of local peoples that we can understand Country and the unique ways in which Country connects us all.
Ngeeyinee bulima nandiritah (May you always see the beauty of this earth)
Shannon is also an educator and artist. Her work for Eden Unearthed, titled “Bujari Gamarruwa” (Have a great day!) reflects the very recognisable Sydney Aboriginal visual art that can be found in the shell middens on Sydney’s sandstone coast lines and waterways. For thousands of years hand prints have been stencilled onto the sandstone cave walls with ochres sprayed from the mouth as way for us to leave our mark on our Country.
Bujari Gamarruwa involved students from Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets, ensuring they “leave their mark behind” by incorporating their handprints directly onto the utility box located under endemic gums and continues to tell the stories of local Indigenous culture, knowledges and art. We can’t thank her enough for her generosity sharing stories and for her participation in the exhibition.
Shannon Foster, weaving and string making.
Shannon Foster, Smoking Ceremony
Shannon Foster and her daughter Jade