First Nations academic wins epic public art commission

Dr Bianca Beetson has won a commission to create one of the country's largest public artworks.

Dr Bianca Beetson will create one of Australia’s largest public artworks after securing a highly sought-after commission.

Director of Griffith University’s Indigenous Research Unit and an acclaimed artist, Dr Beetson won Dubbo Regional Council’s (DRC’s) Kinetic Art competition.

The project involved a nationwide search to find a First Nations artist, with a strong connection to the Wiradjuri nation, to design an epic public artwork incorporating light, movement and sound.

Dr Beetson’s work will take centre stage at the Old Dubbo Gaol Heritage Plaza as part of a five million dollar redevelopment project known as Destination Dubbo: International Ready.

“It’s big, challenging and experimental — I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to produce work on this scale.”

A proud Gubbi Gubbi and Wiradjuri woman, Dr Beetson said it was an honour to create work on Country.

“I identify as Wiradjuri and have family connections to the Dubbo Indigenous community,” she said.

“I see this as an opportunity to reconnect to country and develop ongoing reciprocal relationships with the Wiradjuri community.

“I knew when the ancestors wanted me to come, they would give me a sign.”

Dr Beetson works across a diverse range of media including painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography and public art.

The new art installation in Dubbo will explore the concept of asking permission to enter Country, using sun bleached photographic images, native plants, lightscapes and sound recordings of the Wiradjuri language.

The project is based around the theme of ‘community, country, connection: finding common ground’.

“It’s a complex project, but I’m hoping to create a meditative, uplifting space,” she said.

“It’s also the site of an old jail, so it’s about reclaiming that space and healing through art.”

The project was funded by the NSW Government’s Regional Growth Environment and Tourism fund.