An outdoor area near a river.
SIGNIFICANT SITE:  The Rocks, between the Murrumbidgee River and the CSU Riverina Playhouse, will be the site for the two new River Life project artworks.

Arts & Culture

First Nations artists chosen to create artworks

Published: 28 Jun 2024 10:39am

Two First Nations artists have been selected to develop site-specific artworks for the River Life project, acknowledging an area on the bank of the Murrumbidgee River as a significant site for Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri women.

At its Ordinary Meeting on Monday night, Council accepted the proposals put forward by Wagga Wagga based artists Melinda Jennings and Shelby Lyons-Kschenka whose artworks will respond to and be located near, the site known as ‘The Rocks’ (near the CSU Riverina Playhouse) recognised as a traditional birthing site for Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri women.

Jennings’s piece, entitled Strong Woman and Baby, will be a large-scale sculpture of an Aboriginal woman holding a digging stick and a baby in a coolamon, demonstrating the strength of Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri women and their use of traditional practices and tools.

The artwork will be made of wood to compliment the natural surrounds, while local contractors will be engaged to develop and install the artwork.

Shelby Lyons-Kschenka’s work Strong Women on Country will be a large-scale laser-cut design in steel, inspired by the strong First Nations women in her life, most significantly her grandmother Elizabeth Lyons (Ingram).

The piece will feature silhouettes of women across generations coming together by the river, with symbols representing the connection to Country and representation of the three rivers that flow through Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri Country.

An overhead view of The Rocks near the Murrumbidgee River indicating where the two artworks will be located.
LOCATIONS: The two artworks will be placed near The Rocks and will reflect the significance of the site to Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri women.

Cultural Officer Lauren Reynolds said the two proposals were chosen due to the strength in their design and concept.

“We received several proposals for the River Life project,” Ms Reynolds said.

“The concepts presented by Melinda Jennings and Shelby Lyons-Kschenka were selected as they as they strongly connect with the significance of the site to Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri women in particular.”

“Through a collaborative decision-making process, both the site and artists selected were chosen by a Wiradjuri/Wiradyuri advisory panel consisting of Elders and cultural knowledge holders from Mawang Gaway Aboriginal consultative group.”

“This feedback was then provided to the Public Art Advisory Panel who recommended these artists to Council for commissioning of their artworks,” said Ms Reynolds.

This project is detailed in the Wagga Wagga City Council Cultural Plan 2020-2030 and Public Art Plan 2022 – 2026