The Bondi Memorial – a public artwork dedicated to victims and survivors of LGBTQI+ hate and violence – has been installed at Marks Park in Tamarama. The artwork is entitled Rise and has been designed by John Nicholson of United Art Projects (UAP).
ACON has been working with Waverley Council since 2015 to establish a permanent memorial site in Marks Park to honour those targeted in homophobic and transphobic attacks in Sydney from the 1970s to the 1990s.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the completion of the Bondi Memorial marks an important milestone in the LGBTQI+ community’s journey towards healing.
“For decades, our communities have endured the pain and trauma of these horrific acts of violence. We know that many gay men and trans women were killed, tortured or assaulted across Sydney, including along the city’s coastline and eastern suburbs. These events have left a sorrowful legacy that continues to be felt today,” he said.
“This memorial will serve as a monument to the victims and survivors and help heal the trauma these events have caused for their families and loved ones, as well as broader LGBTQ communities and many local residents.”
“The memorial will also help raise greater community awareness of the issue of LGBTQ hate crimes, promote the continuing need to pursue truth and justice, and serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing and celebrating diversity in our community,” said Mr Parkhill.
“I am honoured to have been a part of such a profoundly meaningful project and to have worked alongside ACON to make it a reality,” said Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos. “John Nicholson and UAP’s design responds beautifully to the project’s guiding principles of remembrance, diversity, inclusion, justice and acceptance.”
“Having a permanent catalyst for the ongoing building of an inclusive, accepting and resilient society will ensure that this dark history will never be repeated,” said Ms Masselos.
Located in an area of natural amphitheatre on the south-western side of the park, the artwork’s compositional arrangement was informed by the strata of the cliffs that descend towards the ocean but re-imagined as a staircase flipped to ascend towards the horizon – the act of climbing inverting the act of falling, the pathway forward away from the history of violence.
Embedded in the artwork is a series of plaques honouring lives lost and reflecting moments in the community ongoing pursuit of healing, truth and justice.
UAP has worked with hundreds of acclaimed artists and creatives from around the world including Ai Weiwei, Tamara Dean and Ben Quilty to assist them in developing concept designs into reality.
“Completing and helping deliver this project with Waverley Council and ACON over the past year has been a humbling experience and is a significant milestone for everyone at UAP,” said Managing Principle and Senior Curator for UAP, Owen Craven.
“This artwork will play a special role in nurturing life in the community as it becomes a place of remembrance for the victims of hate crimes, but also celebrates the bravery of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals who have come out and lived openly, no matter the risks.”
“We hope this memorial helps raise greater community awareness on the importance of inclusion, diversity, equity, and belonging for all,” said Mr Craven.
The Bondi Memorial has been made possible with a $100,000 contribution from Waverley Council, donations from LGBTQI+ people and supporters via ACON’s community fundraising drive, and a philanthropic gift of $64,000 from LGBTQI+ community Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg.
“I’m pleased to see that this contribution has helped to build a monument that not only shines a light on the impacts of prejudice and discrimination, but also underscores the importance of celebrating diversity in the society,” said Heasley.
“It is a great honour to assist in the creation of this public artwork which commemorates the past and stands as a beacon for healing, unity, progress and inclusion,” added Borg.
“We are extremely grateful to Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg for their generous donation towards this important structure. Their contribution underscores the significance of this project and has gone a long way in helping the memorial become a reality,” said Mr Parkhill.
“We also thank all the community members who made a donation to our fundraising drive, as well as the many community members who contributed to the project over the years.”
“Finally, we remember all those that were lost and extend our hearts to the survivors, their families and loved ones. The Bondi Memorial: Rise is dedicated to you. May this monument be a landmark of remembrance, strength, hope, healing, truth and justice.”
“We hope to come together and commemorate Rise when it is safe to do so, but for now, we invite you to come and visit the Bondi Memorial at Marks Park in Tamarama,” said Mr Parkhill.
Image: The Bondi Memorial – photo by John McRae