One of Sydney's most significant pieces of new public art, Place of the Eels, has been officially unveiled in the heart of Parramatta's CBD.
Created by Claire Healy & Sean Cordeiro, the eight-metre tall polished steel sculpture is the culmination of more than two years' work and took more than 50 people and 7,500 hours to bring to life.
Premiership-Winning Parramatta Eels
The artwork is a replica of the 1960s Leyland Worldmaster bus used by the Parramatta Eels rugby league team to hold meetings in 1980s. Coach Jack Gibson bought the bus after the team's home base at Cumberland Oval was burnt to the ground by overenthusiastic fans celebrating the 1981 premiership victory. Despite the team losing their home ground for four seasons, the Parramatta Eels went on to win two more consecutive premierships.
The Flying Pieman
William Francis King, also known as 'The Flying Pieman', was recognised for his feats of speed and endurance. According to local legend, King would sell pies to people embarking on the ferry journey from Circular Quay to Parramatta. Once they were on board and traversing the Parramatta River, King would pack up his stand and race on foot to Parramatta, ready to sell his baked goods to the now disembarking passengers.
Rosie Bint Broheen
The story of Rosie Bint Broheen is a nod to Parramatta's long and layered history of migration and in particular its connection to Kfarsghab, Lebanon, leaving her husband and children behind in a country experiencing political turmoil.
When she reached Australia, a customs officer misinterpreted her name as Rosie O'Brien. She was granted a hawker's licence and in 1922 became one of the first Lebanese women to purchase property in Parramatta. Today there are more than 20,000 people living in Parramatta who can trace their ancestry back to Kfarsghab.
Parramatta School for Girls
The sculpture references coded messages of love and support passed between girls living at the Parramatta Industrial School for Girls, also known as the Parramatta Girls Home. The messages were etched into everyday items like toothbrushes and combs, so the girls could communicate without fear of punishment.
‘The sculpture is made from the perfect material because it’s like a mirror, which will reflect the people of Parramatta. It represents people gathering and coming together like they do in Parramatta Square.’
Digital rendering of Place of the Eels in Parramatta Square.