THE wheels are now set in motion for the installation of the City of Parramatta’s newest public artwork, Place of the Eels, in Parramatta Square.
Created by Western Sydney artists Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, the eight-metre tall, polished aluminium replica of a vintage bus will soon be permanently parked nose-to-the-sky in the Square’s public domain.
“This eye-catching and larger-than-life artwork will be a wonderful addition to Parramatta Square and a landmark for our City,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Donna Davis said.
“It will inspire conversations and help connect the past and the present by showcasing and celebrating some of our City’s lesser known stories and intriguing characters.”
The cement footings have been poured and more than 7.6 tonnes of Australian steel and aluminium have been cast, moulded, welded, and polished to bring the sculpture to life.
The artwork is a replica of the Leyland Worldmaster bus used by the Parramatta Eels in 1981 for team meetings after their home base was burnt to the ground by fans.
The artwork also pays homage to other local legends, including William Francis King – known as “the Flying Pieman” – who would run between Sydney and Parramatta to sell his baked goods; and Rosie Bint Broheen, the first Lebanese migrant to buy property in Parramatta.
The historic Parramatta Girls Industrial School, located in the Parramatta North heritage precinct, is recognised through a set of Roman numerals on the bus. The numerals represent the coded messages the girls used to communicate with each other while institutionalised at the school.
Although the sculpture will seemingly appear in Parramatta Square almost overnight, it is a culmination of two years’ hard work.
“It was really challenging to create this piece during the pandemic, so we were lucky that Urban Art Projects (UAP) in Brisbane were able to fabricate it,” artist Claire Healy said.
Using 3D scanning and thousands of hours of video modelling, UAP built the piece by using a 12-centimetre vintage Leyland Worldmaster toy bus and scaling it up. More than 45 people and 6,500 hours were spent creating moulds, casting and finishing the pieces so they fit together seamlessly.
“The sculpture is made from the perfect material because it’s like a mirror, which will reflect the people of Parramatta. It represents people gathering and coming together like they do in Parramatta Square,” Claire said.
Cr Davis said she’s looking forward to seeing the finished artwork when it’s unveiled later this year.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the Place of the Eels when the installation is complete. It is a piece that is very unique to Parramatta and will attract people from near and far and hopefully teach everyone a little something about our City’s incredible history at the same time.”
Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro
Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro are Western Sydney-based artists who first met at the University of New South Wales while completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts. They have been exhibiting collaboratively since 2001 and are known for their extraordinary sculptures and installations, including their public work Cloud Nation, which is located in the Green Square Library Tower. They have held solo exhibitions locally and internationally in China, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland and the USA. In 2009, their installation Life Span was part of the Australian representation at the 53rd Venice Biennale. They were recently awarded the 2022 Sir John Sulman Prize for their artwork, Raiko and Shuten-dōji.