On Tubowgule, now called Bennelong Point, Quandamooka artist Megan Cope introduces 'Whispers', a melding of First Nations history and environmental consciousness. In this artwork, commissioned for our 50th anniversary, more than 85,000 oyster shells are positioned across the Sydney Opera House precinct. The artist evokes the ancestral midden sites that were used on this site for Aboriginal celebrations and gatherings for thousands of years.
In this documentary by award-winning Walbanga and Wadi Wadi film producer Alison Page and director Nik Lachajczak, follow Megan in the creation of the work and the lead up to the opening of the exhibition.
Preparation included more than 3,000 volunteers taking part in over 100 workshops in three key sites - the Opera House Forecourt, Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville and the artist’s studio in Brisbane - where they worked together to clean, polish, drill and thread thousands of shells by hand.
With oyster shells, Cope has reimagined the architectural framework of the Opera House itself. Two hundred timber Kinyingarra Guwinyanba poles - the phrase means “a place of oysters” in the Jandai language of the Quandamooka people - have transformed the Northern Broadwalk into a landscape of cultural history and community. These poles, covered with oysters, stand as symbols of ecological rebirth and ancestral homage, echoing the call of collective memory and Indigenous resilience. They connect to a 14m wall of shells that frame the western side of the building and emerge through the upper podium.