‘Heart of Country’: A representation of strength, vulnerability and connection

He stands proudly at six (6) metres tall. His bold stance and keen focus cuts a potent and deadly impression whilst making the inescapable suggestion that he is searching for something unseen, lost along the way, relegated to the past.

‘Heart of Country’ was officially unveiled today as part of the Sculpture Down the Lachlan (SDL) trail - located 24 kilometres from Condobolin along the Lachlan Valley Way towards Forbes.

The one tonne Corten Steel sculpture explores the notions of strength, vulnerability and connection.

Melbourne sculptor, Damian Vick said the work is an attempt to acknowledge the injustices endured by the Wiradjuri people, whilst also standing as testament to the collective resilience and determination of all indigenous Australians, and their profound spiritual connection with the land.

“I was extremely conscious that the creation of this work rested on a delicate cultural landscape, and that it must be approached with the gravity and sensitivity it demands”, Damian said.

“I felt it incumbent on me to create a work that fulfils the brief in a manner that would resonate with people regardless of their heritage, and that the best way to achieve this was by depicting a noble, strong and proud figure, but one that clearly declares and acknowledges the damage and loss inflicted upon the First Australians.”

Damian said the nature of the subject matter and developing the piece in conjunction with the local indigenous community has been a profoundly enriching experience.    

“Seeing it in its final location, standing tall, with its earthy finish was an extremely proud moment and gave a sense of finality to a sculpture that I consider the most powerful and important one of my career to date,” Damian added.

Chair of the Forbes Arts Society (FAS) Dr Karen Ritchie said, “We are thrilled to be unveiling the first of the four sculptures to be featured within the Lachlan Shire as part of the Sculpture Down the Lachlan trail expansion.”

“Through this very special installation, it’s hoped that we can achieve a deeper level of understanding, facilitate a proud shared identity, and strengthen the connection between our two Shires.”

Lachlan Shire Mayor, Cr John Medcalf OAM said “The residents of Lachlan Shire are very pleased to accept the ‘Heart of Country’ sculpture into our community. Many Wiradjuri people reside in the Lachlan Shire and I believe this fantastic sculpture symbolises the connection of our first nation people to this area.”

“Lachlan Shire are also very pleased to partner with the Forbes Art Society and Forbes Shire Council on the delivery of the Sculpture Down the Lachlan trail which will have significant and long-lasting benefits for our communities. I would like to thank the other project partners such as the State Government and Evolution Mining who also made significant financial contributions to this project,” Cr Medcalf said. 

The SDL extension is part of the ‘Boosting the Lachlan Valley Economy Art Project’ which is proudly funded by the NSW Government’s Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism Fund, the Forbes Arts Society, Forbes Shire Council, Lachlan Shire Council and Evolution Mining.

Nationals Upper House MP Sam Farraway said the unveiling of the new sculpture on the Lachlan trail was a great tribute to the area’s First Nations people and would give onlookers a reminder of the long-standing culture and traditions of Indigenous Australians.

“The ‘Heart of Country’ sculpture is a powerful and striking addition to the Lachlan trail, honouring our First Nations people, I urge locals and visitors alike to take a stroll down the trail to see this magnificent sculpture in person,” Mr Farraway said.

Evolution Mining Cowal Gold General Manager John Penhall congratulated Mr Vick on his masterpiece and commended both the Forbes and Lachlan Shire Councils for their shared leadership in supporting the vision of the Forbes Arts Society.

“There’s a huge amount of effort that goes into coordinating and bringing all these things together and I want to acknowledge the Arts Society for everything it has accomplished with this sculpture trail to date,” Mr Penhall said.

“From and Evolution Mining perspective, it is a pleasure to support substantial, sustainable projects that will thrive beyond the life of our mine and this project is well on its way to becoming a must-see destination for inland NSW. I can’t wait to bring my family to wander down the trail when it is completed.” 

The $7 million ‘Boosting the Lachlan Valley Economy Art Project’ also includes the construction of a new cultural and arts centre on the corner of Lachlan and Church Street (former Forbes & District Ambulance Station) and the Gum Swamp redevelopment.

The project aims to foster visual arts throughout the Forbes Shire, grow the visitor economy and promote the Lachlan Valley region as a premier tourism destination.