After a long five year absence, the Kaurna Reconciliation Sculptures have been returned to the entrance of the Adelaide Festival Centre (AFC) – to once again publicly recognise Kaurna people and Kaurna land.

In a moving ceremony held on Saturday 12 February, the sculptures were officially rededicated to the Kaurna people, with invited guests gathering to celebrate the significant occasion.

The Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony was performed by Senior Kaurna Man Uncle Mickey Kumatpi O’Brien and First Nations dancers from Tjarutja Dance Theatre Collective. In the welcome, Uncle Mickey Kumatpi O’Brien said Kaurna people have always welcomed people to Kaurna land.

 “These sculptures recognise Kaurna people’s connection to this country, and through the art, we share the stories, history, language, beliefs, and laws, which the Kaurna people live by. When we use our [observing] eyes, and our enquiring ears we gain greater connection to a millennium of cultural wisdom and knowledge,” said Uncle Mickey.

VIP guests included the Governor of South Australia Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Premier Steven Marshall, Chair of the AFC Trust The Hon Hieu Van Le AC, Kaurna Elder Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien and Leonie Ebert and Naomi Ebert Smith representing the Graham F Smith Peace Foundation.

In her address Naomi said the Peace Foundation is proud that this reconciliation gift so rightly honours the Kaurna people and acknowledges the past, present and future of Kaurna culture and traditions.

“It was always hoped that [they] would be something that was a powerful symbol of healing, a focal point for reconciliation, cultural activities – and one that told a story or two,” she said.

She also thanked the collaborating artists who were commissioned to design and craft the sculptures back in 1997 and undertook the recent restoration work – Tony Rosella, Eileen Karpany, Darren Siwes and Donato Rosella.

Admiring the sculptures in their new location Leonie Ebert said “The Peace Foundation is most thankful that the Kaurna Reconciliation Sculptures are rightly back on Kaurna land after five years in storage. They are a powerful symbol of reconciliation and healing between Kaurna and the people of South Australia.

“The Kaurna Sculptures being reinstated at the front entrance of Adelaide Festival Theatre will once again be the focal point of communicating some of the Kaurna story visually, forcefully, and sensitively and the start of the Kaurna Walking Trail.”

Originally commissioned and funded by the Peace Foundation in a valued partnership with the Kaurna community, Adelaide Festival Centre Trust and the collaborating artists, the Kaurna Reconciliation Sculptures recognise Kaurna People and Kaurna traditional ownership and custodianship of the Adelaide Plains.

The Kaurna Sculptures:

  • represent some of the Kaurna story, giving insight to continuous Kaurna culture and history
  • installed at a traditional meeting place that remains a significant Kaurna site and is one of many included in the Kaurna Walking Trail along the Karrawirra pari (River Torrens) and in Adelaide city area
  • initially dedicated by Premier Mike Rann (2002 – 2011) on 27 September 2002.
  • re-dedicated by Premier Steven Marshall, Minister for the Arts on 12 February 2022
  • initiated and funded by The Graham F Smith Peace Foundation with the support of public donations
  • inspired by Kaurna Elder Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien, AO and realised by Leonie Ebert.