Welcome to Country and welcome to our school

A landmark Welcome to Country artwork will form the final piece in Blackfriars’ extensive western campus redevelopment.

The piece, by award-winning Aboriginal landscape architect and visual artist Paul Herzich, will next month be installed adjacent the Jubilee Walkway, off the Te Anau Ave carpark.

Artist Paul Herzich.

Mr Herzich said his artwork for Blackfriars represented his Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri culture.

“The artwork is a site-specific piece that looks at what Prospect Road was originally used as. It was a walking trail, through the burial ground and out to St Kilda,” Mr Herzich said.

“I incorporated a couple of elements of the cultural connection to that space.

“Obviously, there’s more to a piece than I show, but I try to show a general sense of a story that is associated with the location of the artwork.”

The almost 3m-tall main piece incorporates elements representing Blackfriars, “journey lines” from the school, a Kaurna shield, the sun, Southern Cross and Milky Way, as well as a welcome statement in English and Kaurna. It also picks up on the Blackfriars “blue” in the colour scheme.

It was important for schools, in particular, to have such artworks in place to “connect people to Country and provide a sense of place”, Mr Herzich said.

An impression of the Welcome to Country artwork, by Paul Herzich, to be installed at Blackfriars next month.

“For an Aboriginal kid … when you see something Aboriginal, you’re automatically attracted to it,” he said.

“But you also will feel senses of inclusion, safety, belonging and wellbeing.

“For the non-Aboriginal kids, if provides a sense of place to them and where they are in Country and whose Country they’re on and, hopefully, it might ignite a desire to go out and find out more about Kaurna culture, in particular.”  

Blackfriars Principal David Ruggiero said the Welcome to Country artwork would make a grand statement at the entry to the school.

“This magnificent piece completes the western campus redevelopment,” Mr Ruggiero said. 

“It complements the recent transformation of the school and symbolises Blackfriars’ recognition of the Kaurna people as the First Nations people of the Adelaide Plains and their deep connection to the land on which the school now stands.”

“It provides us with an educational opportunity and public statement of First Nations acknowledgment.”  

As well as the installation of the Welcome to Country artwork, the school’s front oval will be formally renamed Padnipadninya Tapa, which translates from Kaurna to Walking Trail and relates to the original name for Prospect Road.

Mr Herzich’s installations can be found throughout South Australia, including at the River Torrens entry to Adelaide University, in Topham Mall in the CBD and at schools such as St Francis of Assisi College, Renmark, and Riverbanks College B-12, in Angle Vale.

His art has also featured on Adelaide Metro trams and buses.

His company, mantirridesign, is an Adelaide-based and Aboriginal-owned landscape architecture, public and visual art design practice that creatively integrates markers of Aboriginal culture into the design and fabric of landscapes and architectural projects.

Paul Herzich’s recent awards

  • 2021 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects State Award, Landscape Architecture Award of Excellence – Civic Landscape
  • 2021 Healthy Parks Healthy People Award, Commendation
  • 2020 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects State Award, President’s Award
  • 2020 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects State Award, Landscape Architecture Award of Excellence – Urban Design
  • 2020 Australian Water Association State Award, SA Regional Infrastructure Award – Innovation
  • 2020 Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia National Award, Design Excellence

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