The Shell Seeker
Megan Cope in front of her installation, Whispers, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House.
Long before the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE was built in the 1950s, the site was a MEETING POINT for the GADIGAL of the EORA nation. Over thousands of years, their CEREMONIAL DEBRIS formed ANCESTRAL MIDDENS, which convicts destroyed. MEGAN COPE’S large- scale sculpture recognises the site’s HISTORY
For the past four months, Quandamooka artist Megan Cope has been ensconced in the Marrickville Addison Road Community Organisation in Sydney’s inner west with a dedicated team collectively preparing for her new commission, Whispers, at the Sydney Opera House. Workers are sifting through 85,000 oyster shells collected from an array of hospitality outlets, hotels and restaurants. Kinyingarra — ‘oyster’ in Jandai language — shells are amassed in a vast warehouse where they are cleansed and perforated in order to be woven into a mammoth armature that will be seamlessly sited on and under the Sydney Opera House’s monumental stairs. An undulating wave of shells, this is Cope’s most ambitious work yet, involving more than 3000 hours of labour in what she refers to as “shell therapy — loving, cleaning, holding oysters and marvelling”.