From Friday, visitors to Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks will quite literally walk all over Jonathan Jones’ new public art installation. The Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist’s latest work, Untitled (maraong manaóuwi), sees the courtyard of the Sydney Living Museums’ historic site stencilled with more than 2000 symbols – the English broad arrow insignia and the emu footprint (or the maraong manaóuwi in Gadigal).
Jonathan Jones at Hyde Park Barracks. Photo © James Horan
Created from red and white gravel sourced from Wiradjuri country, these strikingly similar symbols speak to Jones’ interest in Australia’s shared and conflicting histories. For some, the design is a reminder of the British colonising powers, the symbol appearing on government property. For many Indigenous people, particularly those communities from the south-east, it represents instead the benevolent emu.
“The emu is one of those animals that captured colonial people’s imaginations from the very beginning, but at the same time it was one of the first to get taken out of the Sydney environment,” Jones explains. “So for Aboriginal people, how we remember the animal and its stories becomes even more important because of this, so most communities from right across Australia that I know...