Nicole Monks with mili mili
signal fire, 2023-24
McKillop Park, Freshwater
“Signal fires have been lit on headlands up and down the East Coast by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years as part of a sophisticated system of communication”.
Nicole Monks, Lead Artist and Creative Director, mili mili
First Nations Public Art team mili mili were commissioned to create a new public artwork at McKillop Park at Freshwater’s headland as part of the Coast Walk Public Art project. mili mili is an established First Nations art and design studio co-founded by award winning designer and artist Nicole Monks. Monks is a multidisciplinary artist of Yamaji Wajarri, Dutch and English heritage, living and working on Worimi and Awabakal Country (Newcastle).
The headland offers the community and visitors the opportunity to have breathing space from the busy-ness of the city, to slow down and reconnect with nature and the stories of this significant place. This project will symbolise the beginning of a new journey, and the revitalisation of the history and culture of this place.” – Nicole Monks
The project is part of Council’s Coast Walk Public Art program. This is a landmark artwork, which responds to the site’s natural landscape, environmental conditions and local history. McKillop Park is an iconic viewpoint; a place where people pause, take photographs, check local surf conditions and enjoy the panoramic ocean view. It is a good vantage point during whale watching season, and is an important site at the southern end of the Coast Walk, a 36km path that extends from Manly to Palm Beach.
mili mili engaged with local Aboriginal stakeholders and local communities throughout 2022 and 2023. mili mili was selected from 38 high-quality submissions by Council’s Public Art Selection Panel.
Nicole Monks and mili mili
Nicole Monks is a multi-disciplinary creative of Yamaji Wajarri, Dutch and English heritage, living and working on Worimi and Awabakal Country (Newcastle). Monks’ practice is informed by her cross-cultural identity, using storytelling as a way to connect the past with the present and future. Her works take a conceptual approach whilst remaining embedded in narrative, and aim to promote conversation and connection.
An award-winning designer and artist, Monks crosses disciplines to work with furniture and objects, video, installation, performance and public art. Across these varied forms of art and design, her work reflects Aboriginal philosophies of sustainability, innovation and collaboration. Monks is renowned for her success as both a solo and collaborative artist and is the founder of design practice blackandwhite creative, as well as Continuing Custodians public art company mili mili.
mili mili includes leading and emerging artists, curators, creative directors, landscape designers and graphic designers. The team focuses on Country and Culture and starting conversations with the whole community through placemaking. Based in Sydney and Newcastle, the team has over 30 years’ experience in the design and supply of custom fabrication and public art. They believe working with the local Continuing Custodians is the key to meaningful placemaking that expresses the culture of place.