Public Art Around The World

More Than Just The Plaque

First Contact sculpture

First Contact sculpture

Public Art: First Contact sculpture

Nickname: Bird in a boat

Sculptor: © Laurel Nannup 

Co-ordinated by :  Not-for-profit Perth arts organisation FORM and Brisbane-based Urban Art Projects

Description: The 5m tall polished aluminium sculpture is inspired by the Noongar people’s first impression of European settlers in 1829. They saw the distant sails of their ships and thought they looked like floating birds and that their ancestors were returning. At night the sculpture illuminates.

Artist’s Statement: “When the white people first came and the Noongar people would have thought it was their ancestors coming back to life…They would have thought it was like a big bird bringing people back.”

Cost: $850,000

Location: The First Contact sculpture is located at William’s Landing, Elizabeth Quay, The Esplanade, Perth, Western Australia.

Background To The First Contact sculpture: In Aboriginal culture , seagulls are seen as ancestral spirits who fly over the sea. The sculpture was inspired by a small print of a bird figure that Laurel Nannup had designed a few years back. Collaborating with architects, designers, fabricators and engineers,  Nannup’s small print evolved into the First Contact.


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