The photo that signposts our new research collaboration features a sculpture called ‘Ngaraka: Shrine for the lost Koori’. This Indigenous remembrance sculpture is set in the grounds of Canberra’s Australian National University campus – the place where we will soon walk with children and wildlife in these wild weather times.
The sculpture is the work of renowned Aboriginal artists, Djon Mundine and Fiona Foley – constructed in 2001 out of kangaroo bones and paper bark (seen on the ground) and a steel tubing frame that has now rusted its sheltering form into the landscape.
Standing aside one of our soon-to-be regular walking tracks, it bears witness to the legacies we inherit in this colonised land. As a permanent landscape feature that ‘refigures presences’ (as Fikile Nxumalo puts it in her most recent publication), it will act as a reminder that we always walk in the footsteps of others. As we pass it by, we will remember that this is Ngunnawal country, and that this land has been traversed, imprinted, shaped and reshaped for millennia by all sorts of beings. As a constant reminder that we dwell upon and move across land that is not just ours, we hope that this sculpture will prompt us to keep pondering the implications of our own entanglement in the messy colonial and ecological inheritances that make up this place.