New string art to showcase western Sydney’s cultural pride

(L-R) Venkatesn Muthipandiar and Divya Umashcenkas from India make their mark on the map with Bibi Zanedi from Afghanistan.

The women’s health clinic at Westmead Hospital is now home to two large wall-mounted maps, and they aren’t your usual maps.

Using a piece of string, staff and patients are invited to pin a piece of string to their country of origin and connect it to western Sydney.

As more strings are added, the artwork evolves.

The maps were unveiled at an event today by the women’s and newborn health team to highlight the several language and tribal groups of the world and the Indigenous people of Australia.

The new additions will be a permanent fixture in the women’s health clinic waiting room.

They were showcased this week to mark Women’s Health Week and Multicultural Health Week.

Westmead Hospital Women’s and Newborn care staff, friends and patients. 

Midwifery nurse operations manager Julie Swain said staff came up with the idea to introduce the maps to reflect their team’s and patients’ diverse backgrounds.

“Western Sydney serves a large multicultural population where 65 per cent of our women and families are from non-English speaking backgrounds,” Julie said.

“Displaying these two maps shows that we are proud to acknowledge our heritage, culture and the diversity which is representative of what Australia is today.

“With so many different cultures we experience many positives such as an assortment of delicious cuisines, clothing, arts and culture.

Westmead Hospital Aboriginal liaison officer Narelle Holden and Cumberland liaison officer Shai Grigg. 

“We hope by having the maps on display in the waiting area of the unit will be a talking point or a holiday planner.”

Indian born and 38-week heavily pregnant Divya Umashankar and her husband Venkatesen Muthipandian were delighted to make their mark on the map.

“This is a great way to show the diversity and cultures of our country with no discrimination and treating everyone equally,” Divya said.

At the event, Westmead Hospital’s Aboriginal liaison officer Narelle Holden was joined by Cumberland Hospital Aboriginal liaison officer Shai Grigg to provide an official ‘acknowledgement of traditional owners’ out of respect to Aboriginal ancestors of the land, and to pin their own home towns on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander map.

Westmead Hospital’s Women’s and Newborn care operations director Donna Garland unveiled the maps. 

Western Sydney Local Health District multicultural health team leader Dipti Zachariah paid tribute to the staff and patients for this unique initiative to celebrate culture and multiculturalism across western Sydney.