These seven Gadigal shields were commissioned to mark UTS’s commitment to the establishment of A National First Nations College on Gadigal country. The shields were made by Gadigal Elder Uncle Charles 'Chicka' Madden who, with assistance from artist and UTS researcher Jonathan Jones (Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi), has reinvigorated the traditional practice of making the Sydney-style bark broad shields.
The Gadigal shields are an important symbol of respect and commitment to Gadigal culture and people, and their traditional ownership of the land on which we live and work, and on which UTS stands.
Key reference images for the shields include the etchings of the Yoo-long Erah-ba-diang, or initiation ceremony, which took place in 1795 at present-day Farm Cove in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens and was documented by Judge Advocate David Collins in his 1798 publication An account of the English colony in New South Wales. These images give the impression of an extremely significant cultural event and hint at the complexity of Aboriginal knowledge. The importance of the shields in these images, and the desire to not lose them from cultural memory, led to these unique objects being made again.
The Gadigal clan is one of twenty-nine clans that make up the Eora nation. The Eora nation is bounded by nature’s own: the Hawkesbury River to the north, the Nepean River to the west, and the Georges River to the south.
Uncle Chicka is a respected Elder from Gadigal country. As well as being an active community leader, he is also an important artist creating ceramic sculptures and paintings inspired by Gadigal country. He has lived in and around the Redfern and inner-city area for most of his life serving the Aboriginal community as Director or the Aboriginal Medical Service, member and representative of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, and Director of the Aboriginal Hostels NSW.
He has spent most of his life in construction, working on landmark projects, including Qantas House, Gladesville Bridge, the Eastern Suburbs railway line and Carriageworks, and today is an active member of the Redfern community and life member of the Redfern All Blacks.