Epic 60-metre mural lets history flow through new hospital

Aboriginal artist Danie Mellor explored and captured Parramatta River for his giant artwork.

An incredible 60-metre long, three-metre high mural has moved a step closer to its final home at Westmead’s new hospital building.

Created with infrared photography and comprising 41 individual panels, The River will be installed along a walkway at the entrance to the Central Acute Services Building (CASB) and continue through to the University Clinics at Westmead Hospital.

Contemporary Indigenous artist Danie Mellor’s artwork depicts a stretch of the Parramatta River, the local Darug people’s unique relationship with it, and the importance of the river to all cultures.

“We worked along a stretch of the river from Toongabbie Creek to Parramatta Park. There was plenty of fascinating ecology there,” Danie said.

“By using infrared photography – which exposes a light spectrum we don’t usually see – I’ve hinted at a history of this place that we don’t usually see.

“The work is large, but you need a big space to unpack things.”

Danie’s affinity with natural landscapes and a love of storytelling combine in a stunning mural to be delivered as part of the Westmead Redevelopment’s Arts and Culture Strategy.

He is among a small group of artists hand-picked to roll out 14 works themed around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, healing, nature, community, engagement and diversity.

The pieces will find a home in the redevelopment’s new hospital building, a 14-storey facility to be occupied by Westmead Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and The University of Sydney as part of the $1.1 billion project.

The Queensland-born creative dynamo worked closely with the Darug community and spoke regularly with renowned Indigenous curator Matt Poll, a liaison between Aboriginal artists and traditional owners.

Matt is also delivering Tools of Knowledge, one of the other endorsed projects.

Danie has completed the photography portion of the artwork, with the digital files to be converted into laminated panels ahead of planned installation later in the year.

“Danie’s really understood the space he’s working in well,” said Carla Edwards, who sits on the Westmead Redevelopment’s Arts and Culture Committee, charged with rolling out the program.

“It’s designed to be viewed both walking alongside the images, from the plaza forecourt and also from a seated viewpoint.

The River is one of two artworks where the creative component is now completed, with the other being The Night Sky, which we’re also terribly excited about.”

For more on the Westmead Redevelopment’s Arts and Culture Strategy, go to www.westmeadproject.health.nsw.gov.au/get-involved/arts-and-culture-strategy