Whale Tails! A Tail Sculpture Hunt!

Ever since I knew I would be moving to Sydney my mind reeled at all the art events I'd get to go to.

I missed the Koala sculpture hunt in Campbelltown due to being in Albury renovating. I arrived in Sydney 2 days after the event and to my dismay the same happened with the Liverpool sculpture trail. 

Imagine my delight when I'd heard about a whale tail event in Sydney. After copying the websites locations to my own map I set out early starting at Haymarket

This event has ended and all sculptures are no longer on public display

Whale Tail | 'Slow but Steady' by Chance Purpose

Chance Purpose
Title: 'Slow but Steady'
Location: Crn: Hay St & Tumbalong Blvd, Haymarket

Artists Statement: 
 the design of my Whale Tale brings together broken ‘pieces’ of two separate stories and gilds their intersection. The black pieces represent fear, emptiness and decay – a not-so-subtle nod to oil spills and a broader statement on environmental preservation. The pink pieces represent compassion, tenderness and creativity – as I believe the response to our climate crisis will require equally nuanced and thoughtful solutions.

Pink also evokes an underlying sense of femininity and, as they say, the future is female. Our environment – and society at large – will be much better off when we have more female world leaders in power. On a practical note, the pink/black/gold color combination is quite alien to coastal environments and the harbor, so I chose this dynamic color palette to help visually demarcate the work from the surrounding harbor foreshore.

Whale Tail | 'A Chaotic Balance' by Alex Lehours

Artist: Alex Lehours
Title: ''A Chaotic Balance''
Tombik Kebab

Artists Statement: ''While I was trying to decide what I would paint for this piece I realised the answer was right in front of me. The ocean, much like art, can seem chaotic, aggressive and even confusing at times but it also displays as sense of calmness, tranquility and balance. It has provided us with different stories, beliefs and mythologies that have helped communicate messages that have connected us throughout time. The ocean, much like art, is a powerful and majestic tool that constantly provides a source of information as well as creativity. It can unite and divide us. But ultimately we can all share the magic that it provides within its incredible existence.''

Whale Tail | 'Night Reflections' by Sophie Odling

 Sophie Odling
Title: 'Night Reflections'
Location: The Brothers cafe, Haymarket

Artists Statement:  ''This work focuses on the balance between day and night and elements of nature – water, earth and air.

There is a romanticized beauty where these meet and a serene energy when together after dark.''

Whale Tail | 'Between the Sea and the Sky' by Gabby Malpas

 Gabby Malpas
Title: 'Between the Sea and the Sky'
Location: Fratelli Fresh Darling Harbour

Artists Statement:  ''This is a burst of appreciation of the beautiful Sydney harbour foreshore that I admired as a new arrival in 2003. I love Sydney beaches, beachcombing and looking in rock pools is one of my favourite pastimes – from when I was growing up in NZ. After many years in the UK, the sunshine, beaches, lifestyle and optimism of Australia instilled me with joy and made me truly thankful to be here. Along the way, I became acquainted with Australian native plants – yet I didn’t begin to paint them for at least 10 years after first seeing a banksia, kangaroo paw or a waratah. Strangely beautiful, their forms went against everything I had learnt about botany.

My design is an adaptation of the centuries old but very European genre of Chinoiserie. The main
colours are the classic blue and white of Chinese porcelain. At the base of the tail is an underwater vista – seaweed and small fish drift gently in the surf. Coastal banksia branches drop into view at the tail fin. A couple of Sydney tiger moths are in attendance.''

Whale Tail | 'One For All' by Chris Yee

Artist: Chris Yee
Title: ''One For All''
Location: Tumbalong Blvd (Outside Tumablong Park)

Artists Statement: ''With this work, I hope to represent the modern Asian-Australian identity, and more specifically my own home community of Ryde and the North-West of Sydney. I think there is a very nuanced and unique identity to Asian Australia that is diverse and not seen commonly on mainstream media. With this artwork, I borrow from ornamental and decorative traditions of old worlds and combine these with modern stylistic techniques to speak to the generations of today. The modern Asian Australian identity channels influence of the old, but evolves into something entirely unique and of it’s own aesthetic.''

Whale Tail | '50 Million Years' by Imogen Jade – Little Orange

Artist: Imogen Jade – Little Orange
Title: '50 Million Years''
Location: Darling Quarter Village Green

Artists Statement: ''The sky, the ocean and its creatures inspired my imaginative art process for this project. 

I want people to see that whales are special. They have been here for a long time. We need to protect them by looking after our environment. I want people to know whales are ancient and wise.
We can easily lose these gentle and beautiful giants if we don’t look after the planet. It’s not too late!''

Whale Tail | 'Splashed with Love' by The Kids’ Cancer Project and INSACIOUS

Artist: The Kids’ Cancer Project and INSACIOUS
Title: ''Splashed with Love''

Artists Statement: ''
I wanted to connect the drawings from the kids at The Kids Cancer Project with the ocean. Facing the Western Sydney Harbour, this tail is immersed in coral reefs and patterns from the deep. The children and families who I worked with created colourful drawings of turtles, rainbows, families and fish, and I wanted to place these across the whale tail to communicate their deeply personal and heartfelt stories.

“The Waterfront Whale Tales is an exciting new partnership with the trail and auction aimed at raising awareness and significant funds towards childhood cancer research. We want to change the statistics, every day three families hear the words: ‘Your child has cancer,’ and every week, three children die.” Col Reynolds OAM, Founder of TKCP.''

Whale Tail |'Gawura'' by Jasmine Sarin

Artist: Jasmine Sarin
Location: I
CC Sydney Grand Ballroom

Artists Statement: ''The colours show my respects to the sea and the waterways which feed into it. The dots and circle patterns are symbolic of the tides and swell. The overall artwork is an acknowledgement to the many whale stories that are ingrained in our culture along the east coast from country to country. The Whale dreaming is layered with both sacred and spiritual knowledge. Different stories told by different people help keep creation stories and everyday knowledge part of culture, each layer holding different knowledge systems to ensure important information is maintained. This is the story of knowing when migration starts by knowing the subtle changes across our landscape.''

Whale Tail |'Blomming val' by Micke Lindeburgh

Artist: Micke Lindeburgh
Title: 'Blommig val’ (translates floral whale)

Location: Sunny G Eyewear

Artists Statement:  ''The core of my artistic practice celebrates our connections to nature. I take inspiration from both childhood memories and the bright Australian flora to create colourful jungle-like compositions. I like to create work maximising colour and contrast with simplistic flowerlike shapes. The creative process is a way for me to meditate and daydream, and I hope the viewer finds a similar feeling of solace and a connection to nature.''

Whale Tail | 'Was, Am, Will''by Evi O

Artist: Evi O
Title:' 'Was, Am, Will''

Location: Near the Darling Harbor Ferris Wheel

Artists Statement: ''Was, Am, Will aims to remind viewers that we are all visitors to this land. Just like any living forms, we humans constantly migrate, explore and live off the land. The past, present and future is an inevitable amalgamation of light and dark shade, yet one hopes that united harmony is possible through mutual respect. The artwork’s narrative originated from the artist’s personal understanding of Self, Others and Land – and how we are all by default interconnected. Self as humans can often forget what is the centre of one’s universe, and that perhaps we should always be aware of how we position ourselves in the world – especially the Land – what matters most, and how we can individually contribute to the collective story between all living creatures and matters, because each story counts. The contrasting colours used in this artwork form an abstract representation of all things different, yet harmonious together.''

Whale Tail | 'Dancing on the Whale Songlines' by Peta-Joy Williams

Artist: Peta-Joy Williams
Title: Dancing on the Whale Songlines
Australian National Maritime Museum

Artists Statement: ''The inspiration for this piece is my son’s connection to Whale dreaming from his Tjamu (Grandfather) who is a senior law man from the Mirning Nation located in the Great Australian Bite of Australia. When my son started dancing, he was given permission to paint his face to represent the underbelly of the whale. The Mirning people still sing and dance to the whale songs.

My son will be spending more time in Ceduna to learn more about these stories. He will learn his traditional dances to bring back to Sydney to share with the young men he grew up with in the local La Perouse area. For me, though my nation is fresh water, growing up on the Bidijigal area I also have a strong connection the salt water people. My design has both fresh water and salt water represented in it. This connects me to my ancestors as well as the land and water I was born on.''

Whale Tail | 'Looking for change' by InHunter

Artist: InkHunter 
Title: 'Looking for change'
Location: Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse

Artists Statement: ''This artwork is about needing to move in a positive direction and breaking away from past. This highlights the connection to oil and gas that has hurt our planet and created immense stress on ecosystems and habitats. As humans we have destroyed more half worlds rainforest so we need to swing the tide and bring back nature to be wild free again.''

Whale Tail | 'In Vein' by Tara Chandra

Artist: Tara Chandra
Title: ''In Vein'''
Location: Windjammer Sailors Statue

Artists Statement:  ''In Vein is inspired by the flow and connectivity of water. This piece allows viewers to deep dive into their personal relationship with water – the sustenance and life it brings us, the way the ocean makes you feel, the fact our bodies are built on water. It also allows viewers to navigate the universal experience of water – our connection to other lands, shared feelings and living in a harbour city. We live on an island where everything circles back to water and water informs our national identity. Things change and things end, but water will always find its way back to life, rivers and the ocean. It is one of few things that every living being is reliant on and it is the foundation for us all.''

Whale Tail | ''Liquid Topography'' by Peita Blythe

Artist: Peita Blythe
Title: ''Liquid Topography''

Location: Star Hotel

Artists Statement: ''I am enamored with the artform of mapping because it combines all of my passions: travel, research, illustration, design, hand-lettering and storytelling. The versatility of maps means that anything and everything can be mapped, creating endless design possibilities.

The process of making maps involves a lot of research and helps me to slow down and really engage with the place I am mapping. I really enjoy distilling all this research into a curated map that captures a place’s personality, its history, its quirks and its stories.

I am driven by the need to create informative and beautiful wayfinding maps that will ultimately help people gain a better appreciation and understanding of a place. However for this project, I really enjoyed taking a different approach to produce an artwork that referenced mapping but adopted a more abstract approach.

I decided to use a marbling paint process which I have always been fascinated by due to the way it can capture the fluidity of water and the incredible organic patterns which are reminiscent of topographic contour maps.''

Whale Tail | 'Galactic Whale'' by Furry Little Peach

Furry Little Peach
Title: 'Galactic Whale''
Location: The Darling Hotel

Artists Statement: ''
I was born and raised by the ocean. As a kid, exploring with my snorkel was like exploring new ‘galaxies’ in my very own ‘backyard’. I wanted to bring back a little of that childhood wonder and draw parallels between the ocean and space by wrapping this whale tale in stars. Both space and the ocean are filled with life we know nothing about and are brimming with mystery. Galactic whales are something that I would paint more frequently at the beginning of my career. It’s been so nice to develop what was simple black and white ink paintings, peppered with white stars into this giant, multi-coloured feast-for-the-eyes.''

Whale Tail | 'Vibrant Sydney' by Scott Marsh

Scott Marsh
Title: ''Vibrant Sydney''
Location: Union Square

Artists Statement: ''
My design is an abstract composition of color and vivid mark making. It is painted using spray and uses techniques, color and marking making that stems from my background as a graffiti writer in Sydney streets. The work also draws inspiration from the vibrancy of Sydney city and Sydney harbor.''

Whale Tail | '18 Summers Left' by Jason Wing

Artist: Jason Wing
Title: 18 Summers Left
Location: Druitt Landing, Cockle Bay Wharf

Artists Statement:  ''Aboriginal people have lived sustainably for hundreds of thousands of years since the beginning of time. We warned you all about the this tragedy of the commons and you ignored our Lore and disrespected nature, now we are going to lose oxygen. This western dominant framework is destroying human civilisation for what ? money and power? you can not eat or drink money and power. We are all now faced with no viable alternative to fossil fuels, no clean water, and a world that can not feed its own population. When we witness the extinction of the last whale from over fishing – we will be next.''

Whale Tail | 'Madung. Alive' by M Sunflower

Artist: M. Sunflower
Title:  'Madung. Alive.''
Location: Black Bird Cafe

Artists Statement:  ''This work is part of my Rhizome series – an affirmation to transmute current traumas into future regeneration. Though the word rhizome is derived from a Greek word meaning “to take root”, the rhizome is not about the common tree structure whose branches have all grown from a single trunk.
Rhizome subverts such traditional hierarchies.
Rhizome offers liberation from these structures of power and dominance.
Rhizome has no beginning, no centre and no end.
Rhizome can be entered from any point, and all points are connected.
When injured or broken at one site, rhizome simply forms a new connection that emerges elsewhere.
Rhizome is not about what is or what was, but about what might be.
To quote Deleuze and Guattari: “The surface can be interrupted and moved, but these disturbances leave no trace, as the water is charged with pressure and potential to always seek its equilibrium, and thereby establish smooth space.”

Whale Tail | 'Yuni' by Laura Wells & Ally Mansell

Artist: Laura Wells & Ally Mansell
Title: ''Yumi'
Location: Pyrmont Street Bridge

Artists Statement: ''
In Australia, particularly NSW we are so lucky to witness the migration of the humpback whale to its breeding grounds in the north and back to its feeding grounds in the South every year.  We see humpbacks play, socialise and breed right off our coasts. Yumi portrays this by linking all three elements with a fingerprint design. Yumi visually represents the intersection of humans, whales and the ocean, who all three are intertwined and how each relies on the other to support healthy ecosystems on both land and in the seas. The name Yumi also means ‘abundance’. Since the beginning of the whale moratorium in 1986, a total ban on whaling, humpback whale numbers have increased steadily no longer being consider endangered. A huge achievement, but still whales face many human induced threats-including plastic pollution, overfishing and shipping and climate change. We must protect our whales and our oceans for the future, because what happens in the ocean directly affects us humans here in land.

Whale Tail | 'One Step Forward' by Will Cooke

Artist: Will Cooke
Title: Two Steps Forward

Location: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Artists Statement: ''“The title of my Whale Tail is Two Steps Forward. When considering the gravity of the place and themes outlined in the project’s treatment, I feel the act of conversation is paramount. How can my tail draw attention from the public, yet initiate interaction and start the important conversation surrounding place, Country and the conservation of our planet’s wildlife? Two Steps Forward uses color, geometry and the histories of industrial design to prompt the audience into engaging with the work. By placing three reflective circles on the apex of the tail, I hope to draw people in to not only celebrate the reopening of Sydney but encourage the audience to recognize the duality that Country represents for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The color pink was chosen as it’s been proven to reduce aggression and promote kindness and sensitivity – two acts that are vital when opening an important dialogue. The two outer reflective circles move towards the middle of the tail to form a ‘new place where unexpected things meet’. Two steps forward…”

Whale Tail | ''Under the Sea is the Place to Be'' by Mulga

Artist: Mulga
Title: ''Under the Sea is the Place to Be''
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Artists Statement:  “My artwork has an element of Aussie larrikinism and humour such as fish with moustaches and I think that’s a pretty unique thing.” 

Whale Tail | ''Burri Burri'' by Danielle Mate

Artist: Danielle Mate
Title:''Burri Burri''
Location: Cargo Bar

Artists Statement: Working on this sculpture as opposed to a flat canvas, the shape has certainly pushed me to think differently about placement, balance, scale and repetition. I have enjoyed working with form as opposed to a flat surface.

Whale Tail | ''TAFE NSW'' by Peta-Joy Williams and TAFE NSW

Artist: Peta Joy Williams & TAFE NSW (Jemma Flynn, Ruby Harris Pozzi, Shondell Morgan, Miranda Nightingale, Annastasia Van Epen)
Title:''TAFE NSW''
Location: Sydney Harbor Dinner Cruises

Artists Statement: TAFE NSW Eora learners collaborated on this community art project to add to their portfolio and develop the skills to work effectivity in a team environment. The course is targeted to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is a nationally recognized Statement of Attainment in Introduction to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts that develops skills to explore their cultural identity and creative practice. Learners gain the skills for employment or further study pathways in the Creative Arts Industry. 

Whale Tail | 'TAFE NSW - EORA College'' by Wanita Lowe & EORA Tafe

Artist: Wanita Lowe & EORA Tafe (Michelle Riley, Darlene Proberts, Daniel Sommerville, Ron Griffen, Lee Moran, Jade Simshauser, Gene Kelaher)
Title: 'TAFE NSW - EORA College''
Location: Alegre Bar & Dining

Artists Statement: TAFE NSW Eora learners collaborated on this community art project to add to their portfolio and develop the skills to work effectivity in a team environment. The course is targeted to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is a nationally recognized Statement of Attainment in Introduction to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts that develops skills to explore their cultural identity and creative practice. Learners gain the skills for employment or further study pathways in the Creative Arts Industry. 

Whale Tail | ''Barangaroo Place'' by Wanita Lowe & Nioka Lowe-Brennan

Artist: Wanita Lowe & Nioka Lowe-Brennan
Title:  ''Barangaroo Place''

Artists Statement:  We will explore our identity through our design concept. Look at the layers of Cultural landscape – from our Mother Earth to the Skies above, from dry landscape to the ocean and coast, plant life animals and us as people – fresh water, salt water. What makes our way of living and philosophies unique to the western concepts? How we lived to sustain and conserve life and the environment. How our practices gave us responsibilities to ensure the survival of kinship. And understanding we belong to the land not that the land belongs to us. We are one with it and all that exists.

Whale Tail | ''Whalecome to Country'' by Blak Douglas

Artist: Blak Douglas
Title:''Whalecome to Country''

Artists Statement: “Over my 17 years residing in Redfern, I’ve witnessed a succession of foreign Aboriginal entities orchestrate a very lucrative Land Council. This artwork is designed to spark conversation regarding cultural protocols (or lack thereof). I’ve observed the same fictitious ‘welcome to country’ by self anointed ‘elders’ which has consistently served as nothing more than a persuasive performance designed to brainwash the layperson. An ‘elder’ in Sydney is markedly different than an elder within a remote community. The interests lay purely in economics today rather than a bonafide cultural spirituality.” 

Whale Tail | 'Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga by Gwiyaala Aboriginal Art

Artist: Gwiyaala Aboriginal Art
Title:' 'Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga (Safe journey whale – many)
Location: Munn Street Reserve, Walkway

Artists Statement: Knowing that the whale tail will be auctioned off and proceeds will go to charity, the front of Bronwen and Gavin’s Whale Tail displays a contemporary Aboriginal art style. “We have incorporated bright colours as a reflection of hoping children specifically connect with our colourful story of the journey of the whale. Walawaani Muriyira-Waraga means ‘safe journey whale – many’ in the Dhurga language”. 

The back of Bronwen and Gavin’s Whale Tail displays a traditional Aboriginal artwork design of the migration of whales travelling down the far south coast of NSW past Walbunja country. “The dots represent the ripples along the ocean as they travel south, while the fish in the sand are painted to show the whales’ food source on their journey. The blue and the black represent the depth of the ocean and how far the whales travel back and forth past Walbunja country”. 

Whale Tail | 'Gurad Bagan' by  Niah McLeod

Artist: Niah McLeod
Title:' 'Gurad, Bagan''
Location: Nawi Lawn

Artists Statement:  Niah McLeod’s artwork Ghundinjaha (Whale) takes inspiration from the movement a whale creates and the ocean that surrounds her. 
“I am a Yuin – Monero woman fortunate to be raised and now raising my young family on Bunjalung country, watching the whales sing and play their way past our headland on their migration up north. I have always been in awe of these beautiful creatures; they are ancient beings of such profound understanding. The Ghundinjaha is one of my daughters’ totems.” 

Whale Tail | 'Whale Dreaming' by Graham Toomey

Artist: Graham Toomey
Title: ''Whale Dreaming'
Location: Sea Wall Lawn

Artists Statement: The artwork connects each viewer to the ancient story of Whale Dreaming and captures Saltwater Country. My whale tale sits along the ‘treasure hunt’ where it will also connect the viewer to the stars and moon that mirrors the landscape of Gadigal Country. The stars reference ‘Biami’, my people’s creator (Wiradjuri nation), who protects us, guides us and watches over us, along with our ancestors and the journeys the whales make under the stars. The artwork features the ancient tracks that connect the clans to each other and the sharing of stories and culture. 

Note: An observant reader will note I'm one sculpture short of the 30 tails that made this trail. Sculpture #1 by Pink Bits was located at the Pyrmont Fish Market. I was a bit devastated to discover I had missed it due to not zooming out of my map far enough while in that area and regretfully never completed the hunt