By ALLISON HORE
The final design for a memorial in Bondi to victims of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes was announced on Wednesday.
ACON and Waverley Council have been working in partnership on the Bondi Memorial public artwork project since 2015, and with the selection of the design the memorial is one step closer to reality.
The sculpture, designed by Urban Art Projects (UAP) was selected out of the six shortlisted designs and will honour the victims and survivors targeted in homophobic and transphobic attacks in Eastern Sydney and broader Sydney.
UAP says their design, “Rise”, will “commemorate all women and men whom have been murdered, tortured and persecuted because of their sexuality”. Their design, based on the topography of the area, will include six stone terraces representing the bands in the pride flag.
“Flipped to ascend, the intent is visitors to the memorial will walk up the cliff terraces; the act of climbing inverting the act of falling, the pathway forward away from the history of violence,” they explain in their proposal.
The sculpture will also include brass plaques inscribed with positive messages from the LGBTQ+ community, pictographs or even news articles which showcase the trend towards greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in Australia.
ACON CEO, Nicolas Parkhill, said that UAP’s “deeply moving artwork” embodied the spirit and themes of the Bondi Memorial Project: remembrance, diversity, inclusion, justice and acceptance.
“We know it will serve as a respectful memorial to the victims and help heal the trauma these past events have caused for the families of victims, as well as the LGBTQ community and many local residents,” he said.
“The events of this dark chapter in Sydney’s history have left a painful legacy that continues to be felt today.”
Homophobic and transphobic violence is estimated to have claimed the lives of around 90 gay men and transgender women across NSW between 1970 and 2000. Several of these attacks took place in Marks Park in Tamarama, where the memorial will be located. At the time many of the deaths were misclassified as suicides, misadventure or accidents. But later inquests have determined the cases were most likely hate crimes. To date, around 30 of these crimes remain unsolved.
Mr. Parkhill hopes the memorial will not only help raise greater community awareness of the issue of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes, but also draw attention to the ongoing police investigations and the need for information so that justice can be served.
Deputy Mayor of Waverley, Elaine Keenan, decribed the design as “a respectful, engaging and moving memorial” and said it fulfilled the council’s criteria for the memorial.
“The Waverley Public Art Committee, Council officers and ACON staff all noted the subtlety and elegance of the design and its response to our Public Art Policy’s criteria for placemaking, artistic excellence, local culture and heritage and sustainability,” she said.
Mr. Parkhill said he is grateful for the LGBTQ+ community’s feedback during the selection process.
“I would like to thank everyone who took the time and submitted memorial designs, which were all amazing in their own way, as well as our communities for making sure their voices were heard in shaping this important monument,” Mr. Parkhill said.
Those who wish to support the project are encouraged to make a donation through the Bondi Memorial Project’s website to cover construction costs.
ACON provides counselling, care coordination and referral support for LGBTIQ people and those affected by HIV. To make an inquiry please call (02) 9206 2000 or visit acon.org.au.