A striking artwork that pays homage to traditional Indigenous navigation and land management practices now towers above one of Sydney’s busiest city intersections.
Designed by 25-year-old Kungarakan graphic designer Toby Bishop, Ancient Tracks is printed on fabric and wrapped around scaffolding on the façade of the Woolworths building on George and Park streets, opposite Sydney Town Hall.
The artwork will be in place until the end of the year while the Woolworths building is repainted.
“We’re thrilled to be displaying Toby Bishop’s artwork on what is one of Sydney’s largest outdoor canvases to date,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
“We asked artists, photographers and designers to reflect on the notion of an expansive green landscape, and this artwork is a unique and innovative way to inject the sensation of greenery horizontally and vertically into the heart of the city centre.”
“It is a powerful symbol of the City’s ongoing commitment to a greener, more sustainable city, and to our ongoing work to support our creative communities and enhance Sydney’s cultural life.”
Responding to a call out to designers, photographers and artists for strong images inspired by a greener city, Toby Bishop’s work was unanimously selected from around 180 submissions.
“My artwork Ancient Tracks pays homage to Indigenous navigation and land management, reflecting and speaking to a vibrant evolving global city,” Toby Bishop said.
“For thousands of generations, tracks across Australia were created by our ancestors, gently formed with an interconnected relationship to Country and cultures.”
“These sacred tracks evolved over time, in line with the seasons, ceremony and trade. Pathways are as dynamic as the land.”
Some of Sydney’s main thoroughfares, such as George Street, Oxford Street and King Street in Newtown, followed Aboriginal tracks that served as trading routes between farmed grasslands or bountiful fishing areas.
The building at 532–540 George Street was constructed for a furnishing retailer in 1929. Woolworths obtained the long-term lease of the Bebarfalds city store in 1965 and the council purchased the building in 1985.
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Visit Sydney Barani for more on the Aboriginal history of Sydney.