Wellington Square in Perth is now the scene of a work of art that recognizes the traumatic experiences of the stolen generations.
Created by artist Sandra Hill – an elder and guardian of Wadanandi (Saltwater) – Mia Mias is a place of healing located in the northwest corner of the square.
The artwork features a central lighthouse incorporating the male and female feathers of the red-tailed black cockatoo (Kaarak), surrounded by five traditional dwellings (mia mias). To finalize the work, the prints of Sandra’s grandchildren were glued into the concrete.
âThe City of Perth is proud to see this important work of art come to fruition after careful consultation with the Aboriginal community of Western Australia,â said Perth City Mayor Basil Zempilas.
“Wellington Square represents cultural and spiritual significance to the Nyoongar people, connecting the past and the present and we could not be more delighted to see this work tell a powerful and poignant story for all members of the community.”
Hill says as a member of the Stolen Generations that she has been able to translate the grief, loss and grief of the community into the work of art.
âI understand what it’s like to survive this experience and the things that you hold in your heart forever. I understand what has to be said through art, âshe says.
âThe feathers represent the girls and boys who have been abducted and portray collective pain and loss. They’ve been a part of our symbolism for a long, long time, and I couldn’t think of a better way to recognize these stolen children than with these feathers. When it lights up, it acts as a beacon to help them get home.
âMy whole public art career has been oriented towards this moment in time. The whole point is to bring them home. It is the most important job I have ever done in the past 30 years.
The City of Perth worked closely with Yokai, the Bringing Them Home Committee WA, and the wider Indigenous community to commission this important public artwork.
Western Australian Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation (WASGAC) President Jim Morrison said Wellington Square itself is of cultural significance to the Whadjuk Nyoongar people, who lived there for thousands of years when the site was part of a wetland system.
âThe relationship that Indigenous peoples have with Wellington Square today is one of its identity. It is considered a safe meeting place, with many spiritual connections and memories. Since 2006, Sorry Day celebrations have taken place on this site, âhe says.
âThe memorial will add to the site and give another perspective from a Stolen Generations artist’s perspective. We portray what is true. It is not taught in schools and is not part of the curriculum, which is why it is important.
“For us, this is an unfinished business, it is about rising to the challenge and looking for ways to heal the trauma of the many people who have been affected by the Stolen Generations movement.”
With the artwork now complete, the area where it is located will now be used as a place for education, ceremony, and community gathering during events such as Sorry Day.
The City of Perth has collaborated with Barking Wolf to make a 15-minute documentary on the story of Mia Mias – the artwork of Wellington Square Stolen Generations. To view the documentary, click here.