A new landmark public artwork, Where Eels Lie Down, which honours the history of the eel in Parramatta has been officially launched in the city centre today.
Created by Kamilaroi artist, Reko Rennie, the 7.5-metre tall sculpture depicts two eels rising from the ground and crossing each other as they play.
Visitors will be captivated by the dramatic large-scale artwork which is made up of grey granite stone and hot pink aluminium panels.
“The name of our beautiful city, Parramatta, is derived from the Dharug word Barramada meaning ‘where eels lie down’. This incredible public artwork is a celebration of the significant history of Aboriginal culture here and Dharug connection to the eel and Parramatta River,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Sameer Pandey said.
“This sculpture serves as a reminder to everyone who passes through Parramatta Square of our City’s rich and diverse history and our bright future.”
The sculpture will glow at night with the eels lit up in blue light.
“I feel honoured to have been given this significant opportunity to create work on Dharug Country – a work that pays homage to both the historical and present-day use of the Burramattagal,” Reko Rennie said.
“I hope it becomes a marker for the City of Parramatta as a place where people can come together and share stories and experiences.”
Where Eels Lie Down is one of two artworks chosen for the $2.7 billion Parramatta Square precinct following a competitive worldwide selection process. An independent panel chose from more than 110 submissions including those from international artists from the US, Japan and Spain.
The first artwork, Place of the Eels by Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, was unveiled in September 2022. The sculpture is a gleaming eight-metre tall, aluminium replica of a vintage bus which encapsulates colourful moments and characters from Parramatta’s history.
- The artwork features a total of 33 square metres of granite panels, weighing 4 tonnes and an additional 33 square metres of aluminium panels, weighing 550kg in total.
- The artwork was fabricated by Urban Art Projects (UAP) in its Brisbane workshop.
- In order to transport and install the artwork, it was built in modules with the largest completed module weighing 2500kg.
- More than 20 people worked to design, fabricate and install the artwork over an 18-month period. This included boilermakers, fabricators, painters, stonemasons, project managers, designers and engineers.
- More than 5000 hours to create, transport and build the artwork in Parramatta Square.
Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist who explores his Aboriginal identity through contemporary media. Through his practice, Rennie provokes discussion surrounding Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments. Largely autobiographical, his commanding works combine the iconography of his Kamilaroi heritage with stylistic elements of graffiti, merging traditional diamond-shaped designs, hand-drawn symbols and repetitive patterning to subvert romantic ideologies of Aboriginal identity.