The Australian landscape, from its built and natural environment to the people within it, is a highly eclectic mix to say the least. The national culture and its built environment represent an intermingling of cultural fabrics that come together to create the stunning patchwork quilt that is present-day Australia.
When it comes to Australian architecture though, the perception is one of tailored modernity. Major cities nationwide are filled with state of the art skyscrapers and stunning waterfront precincts, each with its own unique urban aesthetic that allows Australia’s urban centres to rival other global cities and helps make Australian cities some of the most liveable in the world.
Even traditional Australian architecture is associated with a Victorian aesthetic, with federation style housing and the ‘Queenslander’ demonstrating the typical nod towards heritage works in a still-young country.
Aboriginal artist Reko Rennie’s work on the T2 building at Taylor Square South in Sydney offers a subtle yet important reminder that Australian architecture has been an important part of the Australian fabric even before English colonization.
The façade installation, aptly named ‘Always Was, Always Will Be,’ expresses this traditional cultural heritage.
“Always Was, Always Will Be is a simple but powerful reminder that you’re standing on Aboriginal land,” says Rennie. “This is Gadigal country – it always was, and it always will be.”
The façade includes a diamond pattern in pink, blue and black and covers the entire building, offering a vivid and noticeable aesthetic. In terms of cultural context, the pattern harkens back to traditional markings of the Kamilario people of northwestern NSW.
According to City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, this piece was positioned to increase the impact of the artwork while sharing its dual message of traditionalism in a modern context.
“Reko Rennie’s larger-than-life mural is a fascinating mix of traditional imagery and contemporary techniques, and is bound to be an instant hit with the thousands of people who pass through the area each day,” says Barone.
Rennie says the design is but one of many projects to come in the world of modern indigenous artistry.
“This project is one of the largest I have been involved in, and I’m really excited to be collaborating with the team at Cracknell & Lonergan,” he says. “This work is just one example of the diversity of form and medium in contemporary Aboriginal art.”
The facade will remain as an apt reminder of this country’s traditional heritage until mid-March next year.