Sea of Hands carries Australia to a brighter future

22 May 2013

The winning design 'Carrying Australia to a Brighter Future' by Claire Munro.
The winning design 'Carrying Australia to a Brighter Future' by Claire Munro.

The University's front lawns will be brightened with the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags in the name of reconciliation next week, thanks to a bold design for the Sea of Hands public art installation unveiled this week.

Sydney College of the Arts student Claire Munro has been announced as the winner of the design competition for her design 'Carrying Australia to a Brighter Future'. Her design will form a major focal point for Reconciliation Week 2013 in Sydney.

The vibrant design, for one of Australia's largest public artworks, shows a brightly coloured map of Australia embraced by four different coloured hands - white, black, green and gold - symbolising Australians working together to build a harmonious multicultural nation.

Marked out with coloured wool and populated by brightly coloured plastic hands signed by members of the public, the design will be launched at the University's official flag raising ceremony on Monday 27 May. Visitors can plant a hand every day between 10am and 2pm until Monday 3 June.

"Carrying Australia to a Brighter Future demonstrates the shared obligations of all Australians from all backgrounds to progress into a united, respectful and recognised multicultural country," says Claire. A current Bachelor of Visual Arts student, Claire won the event through a competition at Sydney College of the Arts.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be able to live in a country that, as a whole, recognises their cultural importance, rights and contributions to Australia as a nation.

"It is the uniqueness of our multiculturalism that holds our country together and that is what this design is about."

The University of Sydney will act as a beacon for Reconciliation Week this year, with our iconic Quadrangle playing home to the City of Sydney's only Sea of Hands installation.

"I'm delighted that Claire, a student from Sydney College of the Arts, has been given the opportunity to deliver one of Australia's largest public art events," says Professor Colin Rhodes, Dean of Sydney College of the Arts.

"Claire's design, Carrying Australia to a Brighter Future,infers strength through unity and promotes equity within a multicultural society. The design will form a significant statement on the lawns of the University to celebrate the important values that Reconciliation Week represents," he says.

The Sea of Hands joins an expansive program of public events hosted by the University to celebrate Reconciliation Week this year, including public talks, exhibitions, school visits and an official flag-raising ceremony to kick off the week.

The first Sea of Hands was arranged by ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) in 1997 in front of Parliament House in Canberra.

Since then, more than 300,000 people have signed their names on 120,000 plastic hands in Sea of Hands installations in every major city in Australia, as well as many regional centres. The Sea of Hands has become a symbol of the People's Movement for Reconciliation.

Event details

What: Sea of Hands public art installation, part of Reconciliation Week 2013 at the University of Sydney

When: Monday 27 May to Monday 3 June, 10am to 2pm daily

Where: Front lawns, University Avenue, Camperdown Campus

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Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809,