Room Set: Acknowledgement Through Art

ICC Sydney wears its commitment to Indigenous populations on its sleeve — through programming, a reconciliation plan, and the artwork and messaging that shape its campus.

Author: Curt Wagner       

Jeffrey Samuels with cane at ICC Sydney

First Nations artist Jeffrey Samuels looks at one of the panels at an entrance to ICC Sydney depicting the whale, or barani, taken from his commissioned work that hangs at the center. (Photos courtesy ICC Sydney)

Land acknowledgements formally recognize the past and present relationship of Indigenous people to the land where a business operates or an event is taking place. They are spoken at the beginning of a conference, for example, or presented as a written statement on the website or at the venue. International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) — located in Tumbalong, the traditional land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation — puts its commitment to Australia’s Indigenous population front and center, not only with a statement on its website, but via physical representations in its three buildings and in the Darling Harbour precinct where it operates.

Jeffrey Samuels artwork

Jeffrey Samuels’ painting,“Gadigal, Acknowledgement Respect” pays homage to the original inhabitants of the area where ICC Sydney operates, where ancient rock engravings of the flora and fauna have been preserved. 

“Gadigal, Acknowledgement Respect” is a painting by First Nations contemporary artist Jeffrey Samuels that has become part of the venue’s comprehensive Australian art collection, and hangs above the customer service desk in ICC Sydney’s foyer. The work tells the story of how Australia’s First Nations people are connected to Sydney Harbour, depicting various plants, shells, and animals around the harbor, including the whale, which is a totem of the Gadigal clan.

With permission from Samuels and the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, which he co-founded, the artwork has been adapted for multiple mediums, including as digital signage throughout the venue’s three buildings and the Darling Harbour area. Also, individual aspects of the painting adorn entrances, including the painting’s waving hands along with the message, “Bujari gamarruwa to ICC Sydney,” which means “Welcome” in the local Gadigal language.

ICC Sydney commissioned Samuels to create the painting in 2018, when it launched an industry-first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a roadmap to how it would engage with Indigenous communities and share their history with groups meeting at the center through its CSR offerings and other programs. In March 2022, ICC Sydney implemented a second RAP to strengthen its commitment to celebrating, recognizing, and acknowledging Australia’s First Nations culture, histories, and people. Samuels’ work appears on the cover.

“We are very proud to be located in this special place, where people have gathered to meet, trade, and hold ceremonies for many tens of thousands of years, which is why we are committed to meaningful engagement with First Nations communities,” said Geoff Donaghy, ICC Sydney’s CEO, in a statement. “Through our event Legacy Program, we will continue to present First Nations culture to the thousands of visitors walking through our doors each year.”

digital signage at ICC Sydney

Jeffrey Samuels and the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative gave ICC Sydney permission to adapt his artwork for multiple mediums, including as digital signage.

ICC Sydney foyer featuring artwork

Jeffrey Samuels’s artwork has been adapted to as digital signage in ICC Sydney’s foyer.

Related Posts

Become a Member

Get premium access to provocative executive-level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.