Embrace the tranquility at Blacktown Hospital

Djalgala Yarra inspired by the shape, colour and history of the Angophora Costata.

A towering new sculpture, inspired by the Sydney Red Gum, brings calmness to Blacktown Hospital. 

The hypnotic motion of the six-metre high steel tree sculpture, featuring coloured Perspex leaves, brings a tranquil energy to the western entry of the hospital.

Created by Darug artist Leanne Tobin and artist Alex Sanson, ‘Djalgala Yarra’, or ‘Tree Embrace’, was inspired by the shape, colour and history of the Angophora Costata.

Also known as the Sydney Red Gum or Smooth-barked Apple Gum, this tree is local to Blacktown.

Artist Leanne Tobin explains the symbolism of the angophora to local Aboriginal people.

“The Smooth-barked Apple Gum is seen by many local Aboriginal people as a women’s tree, with its wide opening arms, its majestic presence and human-like folds and form,” said Alex. 

“The Angophora tree form alludes comfort and nurturing with her strong trunk and wide-spreading arms and these qualities reflect the hospital and its role as support and provider of comfort and care to those that come here.

“The red sap of the Angophora is a medicine, used traditionally as a treatment for stomach ailments and as an astringent.”

Artist Alex Sanson explains the healing energy of the sculpture. 

“It is inspired by meditative breathing with a hypnotic motion that gently breathes, folding and unfolding as branches and leaves intersect, combine and dissolve in an endless and effortless cycle,” Alex said.

“The tall central trunk houses the mechanism and supports the moving branches high overhead.

“The slowly reciprocating mechanism links via pushrods to the branches to create a movement mesmerizing and energetic, contemplative and euphoric, and above all intended to generate a sense of captivating wonder.

“The sun projects beautiful kaleidoscopic patterns on the ground through the leaf shaped patterns cut into the surfaces of the branches and these patterns move as the sculpture moves and also with the tracking of the sun through the sky.

“A similar kaleidoscopic effect is visible as one gazes into the air up through the tree top.”

Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals Expansion Project Manager Robyn Campbell, said artists like Leanne and Alex are working with staff and the local community as part of our BMDH Arts and Culture Program.

“The hospital is coming to life with abundant art featured around the facility. The works help to inspire, calm and engage patients and visitors,” said Ms Campbell.

Djalgala Yarra greets people as they come up the broad tree-lined walkway from Marcel Crescent, into a new entry plaza which will replace the existing ambulance bay area.

“The sculpture has been created in such a way as to give the feeling of movement and breath, adding colour and interest to the main entry.

“This is particularly important as people approaching the hospital can be quite anxious, so a soothing and distracting element at the main entry will help to make people feel calmer and more welcome.”

The Arts and Culture Program has been delivered as part of the $700 million Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals Expansion Project.

Selected by the BMDH Arts Committee, Djalgala Yarra, was chosen by the team whichincludes hospital staff, patients, community members and specialist arts consultants from the Health and Arts Research Centre.

“Our arts and culture program reflects the diversity and aspirations of our community,” Ms Campbell said.

“The artworks were selected by the people who will work, visit and have treatment here, and the works are important to them because of the benefits they bring to patients and their families.”

A recent study by the British Medical Association (BMA) found that art creates ‘a therapeutic healthcare environment’.

The BMA found that arts and humanities programs have been shown to have a positive effect on inpatients including shortening the length of hospital stay, promoting better doctor-patient relationships and improving mental health care.

For more information about Kaleidoscope, the BMDH Arts and Culture Program, visit http://www.bmdhproject.health.nsw.gov.au/WWW_Blacktown/media/Media/Images/Arts/Kaleidoscope-BMDH-Arts-Program-update2.pdf