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University of Newcastle - McMullin Placemaking

This collaborative placemaking project, leading to an Aboriginal artwork that welcomes all, shares culture and celebrates education at the University of Newcastle, commenced in 2020 when The University of Newcastle invited Indigenous artists to submit expression of interest to collaborate with winning student entrants Laurance Low Wen Jieh, Meixin Du and Pau Jin Wei to bring an authentic and culturally appropriate local Indigenous design to the University of Newcastle Place-Marker on the lands of the Pambalong Clan of the Awabakal Nation.


In the past, graduates and new students have had a photograph taken of themselves in front of the University of Newcastle entrance sign. This ‘placemarker’ has become an important and iconic part of graduation, and university life, particularly for those students who have relocated to attend The Newcastle University.


The winning design idea - The Journey. Its a clever interplay of the University logo and its values. The proposal entails a platform with four sculptural pillars which represent the four University of Newcastle values of Excellence, Engagement, Equity and Sustainability. Together they align to form an abstraction of the Hippocampus (Sea Horse) Crest. Each in their own part are important and resolved forms, but when viewed collectively the four parts make a complete whole that compliments the bushland setting, a sustainable and restrained materials palette which includes sandstone and high-quality precast concrete.


As a leader in Indigenous education and employment this welcoming multicultural space whose students and staff are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, global citizens, locals and those from our region, shares local culture through traditional symbolism in contemporary design. Wola Mariyang - Meaning ‘Go Forward’ brings an acknowledgement to traditional owners of the land, while depicting the exciting journey taken through exploring and learning at The University of Newcastle.


The two-year journey to final installation and activation of the space in early 2022 has been a collaboration that has accumulated into a place to pause, sit and celebrate graduation with a unique photographic opportunity.



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