Gumadagu Gurang, Home of the Ancestors

Gumadagu Gurang, Home of the Ancestors

Leanne Tobin, Aunty Edna Watson, Leanne Watson, Chris Tobin

Painting reproduced on Vitrapanel


Main entry, soffit under the Innovation Center

Gumadagu Gurang is a project that celebrates place and the Aboriginal knowledge of the night sky

Artwork by a group of Darug Elders and artists Aunty Edna Watson, Leanne Watson, Leanne Tobin, Rhiannon Wright, Shay Tobin.

For Aboriginal people throughout Australia, the sky and the earth are intricately linked and have provided for thousands of years the guiding maps that allow seasonal safe travel across country for thousands of years. When looking up at the night sky, our Old People would read the stars to navigate the land when travelling for ceremony and trading. From the moving constellations, they also gleaned knowledge about seasonal changes back on country. This ancient knowledge ensured their long-term survival and was passed on throughout the generations.

The Dharug people from the Greater Sydney region shared night sky stories with many other Aboriginal nations and some of the star stories such as the Seven Sisters story (Pleiades constellation) have songlines that are shared right across Australia and beyond. ‘Gumadagu Gurang-Home of the Ancestors’ depicts known Dharug beliefs and stories of the night sky. The stars are the twinkling of the various campfires of the Ancestors as they go about their daily lives - a reflection of life on earth.

The ‘Sky Country’ was the Spirit world for our old people and was believed to be home to our spirit; the dwelling place of our ancestors as well as the children yet to be born. The Creator Sky Spirit is said to live there; coming down to give us laws and teachings before returning to the Sky Country where he looks over us.

Creation Stories are held there in the sky. The movements and the cycles of the heavenly bodies acted as indicators for food cycles and times of ceremony. The artwork was created to show our peoples’ understanding of the Sky Country as the Spirit world ever present, awe-inspiring and connecting us here on earth to our Ancestors and the old stories of how we came to being.

Commissioned by HARC for the Westmead Hospital Redevelopment Project

Video by Martin Brown

The art work ready for creating the final fabricated work

Warami-Westmead acknowledges the Dharug people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the Westmead Health Precinct stands and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.

Contact HARC for further information

© Health and Arts Research Centre Inc 2021