New artwork a symbol of welcome at Randwick

Learn more about the story behind ‘Gum leaves’ – a major public art project at the entrance to the Prince of Wales Hospital Acute Services Building.

A newly created video explores the meaning behind the artwork through the artists’ words, explaining its significance as a symbol of welcome, healing and cleansing.

Created by artist and long-term patient of Prince of Wales Hospital, Dr Peter Yanada McKenzie (Eora/Anaiwan) and artist, Jonathan Jones (Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi), a design of scattered gum leaves along the forecourt provides a prominent and embracing welcome to all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

With large-scale yet intricate outlines of gum leaves etched into the pavement, the artwork mimics the bush floor with an array of scattered leaves, as if they have fallen from above or are left over from an ancestral ceremony.  

“To be made ‘welcome’ in terms of Aboriginal cultural practice is a most important and significant act of mutual acceptance, to greet new friends and visitors to country or other significant places, such as this new icon of healing, with the assurance of goodwill,” said Dr McKenzie.

“As a respected elder and cultural representative of my Aboriginal community at La Perouse (on whose land council area the Prince of Wales Hospital is situated), I believe the use of Australian native gumtree leaves, as used in our traditional and now contemporary Welcome to Country smoking ceremonies, is a magnificent symbolic gesture as a ‘welcoming device’ to the hospital’s visitors.”

Dr Peter Yanada McKenzie