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Artists Blak Douglas, Sha'an D'Anthes and Chris Yee with Indigenous Curatorial Advisors Aunty Joanne Selfe and Uncle Graham Toomey, and Art Pharmacy curators Margaux Ducerisier, Brunella Muddle and Claire Wastell.

20.07.22 |

A Six-Kilometre Sculpture Trail Filled with Whale Tails Is Popping Up Along Sydney's Western Harbour

By Sarah Ward

Thirty Australian artists are creating 30 two-metre-tall whale tail sculptures, each inspired its location and the land.

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Fans of outdoor art, scenic walks and excuses to mosey around Sydney have spent the past few weeks rejoicing about the upcoming return of Bondi's Sculpture by the Sea. But it's not the only event set to give locals and tourists alike an excuse to soak in the Harbour City's waterside splendour, and soon — and see a heap of impressive creative pieces in the process.

Slated to run between Thursday, August 11–Saturday, September 24, Waterfront Whale Tales is a new addition to the New South Wales capital's arts calendar. Yes, that name is a big clue. The free outdoor exhibition will feature 30 two-metre-tall whale tail sculptures, as created by 30 Australian artists, with each piece inspired by its location and the land.

Creatives set to do the honours include 2022 Archibald prize winner Blak Douglas, illustrator and animator Chris Yee, and artist, author and illustrator Sha'an d'Anthes, aka Furry Little Peach.

Curated by prolific curatorial group Art Pharmacy, the full range of sculptures will span a six-kilometre trail along Sydney's Western Harbour waterfront, reaching from Barangaroo to Sydney Fish Market. That means that it'll stretch past Crown Sydney, King Street Wharf, Darling Quarter, ICC Sydney, the Powerhouse Museum, the Australian National Maritime Museum and The Star.

While visitors will be able to walk the full trail in a single stroll, there'll also be mini trails for shorter walks. And, there'll be an app that'll provide details of each, plus stories about the waterfront's past, present and future. Also available via your phone: freebies, discounts and prizes from local businesses along the trail, as well as a major prize for checking out all 30 tails.

As well as aiming to get folks checking out the waterfront — attempting to attract up to 500,000 visitors, in fact — the trail has enlisted Indigenous Curatorial Advisors Uncle Graham Toomey and Aunty Joanne Selfe to help connect the artists to the Whale Story, as well as to the Gadigal and Saltwater Country that the exhibition will grace.

"Traditionally, the whale holds within it intricate Aboriginal knowledge systems, a complex tapestry of science, of knowledge that interweaves with cultural and social practice," said Aunty Joanne.

"The sculptures will feature the ancient tracks that connect the clans to each other and the sharing of stories and culture," said Uncle Graham.

After the event's six-week run, the sculptures will be auctioned, with net proceeds given to the Kids Cancer Research Project. If you're keen on one while you're taking the walk, you can also put in an expression of interest during the trail's dates.

Sydney's Waterfront Whale Tales will run between Thursday, August 11–Saturday, September 24 along the city's Western Harbour waterfront from Barangaroo to Sydney Fish Market. For more information, head to the exhibition's website.

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