Skip to content

Hand Upon Hand

In 2001 the interpretive structure "Hand Upon Hand" was created to explore the theme of Federation and multiculturalism of Australia.

Designed by Gillian Smart, Landscape Architect for Centennial Parklands, the sculpture was developed as a vehicle for communication, a connection, between cultures. It features a series of hanging shells crafted from bronze, with selected words celebrating Australian society, engraved on them. Hand Upon Hand is interactive and tactile, and encourages unity through experience. Over time and use, the layering of hands on the shells will enhance its meaning, and reinforce the unity and diversity of our cultural backgrounds.

Designed to be revisited, the work will create a memorable and ongoing link with the community. As children grow they will be able to touch and read the shells which were previously out of reach. And as the children grow, so do the trees in The Avenue of Nations, and so does the nation.

The simple lightweight piece is integrated into the surrounding landscape, amongst the trees, and enriched by the play of light and shadow. The composition of shells hanging at different levels, invites the public to touch and turn them.

Accompanying the sculpture is a poem written by Adam Aitken, and commemorated in a bronze plate adjacent the site:

This freedom-we sometimes
find it here
fragile, in a wild
land we did not
full of nations of a kind
before we came
and more to come

we grow to love
must learn to forgive
making stranger into friend

our steps much lighter now
and more
gentle on the ground

the past a message
in trees and waves, and in your palm
your history mingles with the earth

and from the mouths of the wise ones
custodians sing a Law of living
that writes us
yields its path

and gives us
message of repair
that says
'it's fine, it's clear
you are here
your homesickness
will not last
you're home
within us,
clear path to sweet water:

all spirits
be spoken for.'

Where is this found in Centennial Parklands?

Hand Upon Hand is located adjacent to the Centennial Homestead on Banksia Way in Centennial Park (see map).