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A major new permanent artwork by the Ghost Net Collective

A major new permanent artwork by the Ghost Net Collective has been unveiled at Sydney’s Exchange Square at Barangaroo South.

Commissioned by Lendlease, the work has been created by a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from Cairns, Townsville and Erub in the Torres Strait, who are renowned for making creative use of harmful fish nets that have been abandoned, lost or discarded in the ocean, known as ‘ghost nets’, washed up on beaches all around the world.

Curated by Nina Miall, the site-responsive permanent installation titled Mermer Waiskeder: Stories of the Moving Tide is now one of the largest hand-crafted public artworks in Australia and draws inspiration from the artists’ own histories along with the rich history of the Barangaroo site.  

Huge hanging gold art work, looks like angels floating above main entry of commercial building. Lendlease development

Mermer Waiskeder: Stories of the Moving Tide is comprised of 11 eagle rays, meticulously hand-stitched with colourful ghost nets covering aluminium frames each measuring 2.8 metres in width. The sculptures will be illuminated at night from within and suspended against projections of rippling water, creating a fully immersive underwater effect across the square as the rays glide overhead, conveying the impression of a fever of rays swimming in the shallows. 

The project seeks to shed light on the implications of ghost nets to Australia’s natural environment, and highlight the importance of marine conservation by placing the issue in the heart of the city.

This installation forms part of the overall Barangaroo Public Art and Cultural Contribution by Lendlease in excess of $40 million. Lendlease has previously delivered two major permanent artworks in Barangaroo South: Shellwall by Esme Timbery with Jonathan Jones in 2015, and Shadows by Sabine Hornig in 2019, as well as the recent temporary photographic exhibition from multidisciplinary artist Brenda L. Croft (Gurindji/Malngin/Mudburra), Naabami (thou shall/will see): Barangaroo (army of me).

All artworks are delivered under the joint NSW Government and Lendlease Public Art and Cultural Plan for Barangaroo, which provides a strategic framework for Infrastructure NSW, Lendlease and Barangaroo’s future development partners to guide the commissioning and management of public art across Barangaroo.

Lynnette Griffiths, lead artist, said: “We’re looking to share the knowledge that we’re an island nation connected to the world by the oceans. The work provokes a magical underwater feeling that not only makes you think about the animals that are affected by ghost nets but also raises awareness about the problem of abandoned plastic and fishing gear. This work is about connecting people through collaboration and the ancient practice of stitching. It is historical yet through this medium it is thought provoking with a call to action.”

Tom Mackellar, Managing Director of Development, Lendlease, said: “This continued investment into public arts and cultural programs across Barangaroo South will see the precinct become home to one of Australia’s largest public art collections. Working with artists who celebrate and showcase the local cultures and stories of our precincts is an important part of our placemaking, and we hope the addition of this spectacular installation will be enjoyed by all.”

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