Hawkesbury Hospital reveals Aboriginal artwork, 'Life along Deerubbin'

Artwork complete: Some of the people who contributed to the artwork as well as the hospital's CEO, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Community and other representatives. Picture: Supplied
Artwork complete: Some of the people who contributed to the artwork as well as the hospital's CEO, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Community and other representatives. Picture: Supplied

Hawkesbury District Health Service (HDHS) has revealed its Aboriginal community artwork at Hawkesbury Hospital and thanked those involved in the project.

The canvas titled 'Life along Deerubbin', which took six months to create, is an imposing 10 meters in length and illustrates life along Windsor and Richmond's Hawkesbury River through the eyes of the Darug peoples.

What was previously a blank wall in the hospital's corridor is now brimming with life in a colorful representation of the local Aboriginal culture.

The artwork commenced in September 2020 with community participants of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal descent, dedicating over 300 hours to complete the project.

HDHS Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Community David Simmonds together with HDHS Aboriginal Liaison Officer Vicki Thom were behind the project, with Vicki also taking the role of coordinator.

Ms Thom, herself a proud Wiradjuri woman, said she felt honored to work for a health service that respected the traditional owners of the land and supported her work through the project.

"The artwork represents respect, culture, spirituality, acknowledgement of culture, acceptance and pride to both myself and everyone who was involved," Ms Thom said.

"Every hour we spent painting was absolutely awesome, the group had so much fun. There were laughs, jokes, serious and some silly discussions. There were friendships formed that will last a lifetime.

"There was also teaching, listening and learning from Darug Elders Aunty Edna and Uncle Alan Watson. There was also a sense of pride in the group, knowing they are creating a mural that will be hanging in Hawkesbury Hospital for many years.

"I feel the artwork is a statement that the Aboriginal culture and spirituality lives in us all and we are guided by our ancestors. When we first started the artwork, we had a certain direction but we soon realised that the painting was telling us what to paint. It was a beautiful feeling, knowing that a force was with all of us every time.

"Over the years, we have lost dearly missed community members and to honor them, their totems have been added to the artwork out of respect to both them and their families."

Hawkesbury District Health Service Chief Executive Officer Strephon Billinghurst said it was wonderful to have an artwork in the hospital that only celebrates the local Aboriginal culture but also brings people together.

"We have a strong relationship with our local Aboriginal community and this is yet another step towards reconciliation and making sure that we continue to value and respect the culture of the oldest civilization in the world," he said.

Following the success of the project, plans are underway for a second artwork.