Signal Fire

May 14, 2024

Artist: Nicole Monks
Fabricator: mili mili
Location: Freshwater Beach NSW

A striking new public artwork celebrates Australia’s Indigenous history and the enduring traditions of its First Nations people. Created by First Nations art and design studio Mili Mili, the landmark piece is part of the Northern Beaches Council Coast Walk Public Art project.

Led by artist and creative director Nicole Monks, Mili Mili pays homage to the historic significance of signal fires, integral to Aboriginal communities for millennia. Northern Beaches Mayor Sue Heins highlighted the artwork’s importance as a gathering place to honour traditional custodians. She recounted how signal fires, observed by Captain Cook in 1770, were a sophisticated form of communication and warning.

The creative process involved extensive collaboration with local indigenous elders, the Aboriginal Heritage Office, and the wider community. Cultural knowledge was woven into the artwork through consultations and walks on Country.

Partridge provided structural engineering design and consultation to ensure the artwork’s safety and longevity, addressing challenges like withstanding coastal winds and the corrosive coastal environment. Collaborating closely with Mili Mili, they reinforced the slender columns and coordinated the attachment of inclined column legs.

Mili Mili also partnered with Bush to Bowl, a local Aboriginal enterprise, and Council’s bush regeneration teams to integrate native plants into the surrounding landscape, enriching the artwork’s cultural and ecological context.

This landmark sculpture adds depth to the 36-kilometre Coast Walk, offering visitors a chance to explore Sydney’s iconic beaches, surf breaks, and cultural heritage sites.

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