Contemporary Kungarakan artist Toby Bishop’s ‘Ancient Tracks’ Displayed in Sydney’s City Centre

Woolworths building in Sydney city centre with artwork by Toby Bishop.

Woolworths building in Sydney city centre with artwork by Toby Bishop. Courtesy of City of Sydney News, 2022.

If you venture into Sydney’s bustling city centre, you’ll notice an expansive, stunning artwork wrapped around the scaffolding of the Woolworths building on George and Park streets, opposite the Sydney Town Hall. This piece “Ancient Tracks” is by the up-and-coming Kungarakan graphic designer and visual artist, Toby Bishop. 

“My artwork Ancient Tracks pays homage to Indigenous navigation and land management, reflecting and speaking to a vibrant, evolving global city,” Bishop explained in a press statement. 

“For thousands of generations, tracks across Australia were created by our ancestors, gently formed with an interconnected relationship to Country and cultures. These sacred tracks evolved over time, in line with the seasons, ceremony and trade. Pathways are as dynamic as the land.”

Bishop designed “Ancient Tracks” for an art competition held by the City of Sydney News in 2021, which encouraged creatives to submit a piece to go onto the building inspired by a greener city. 

The 25 year old artist shared that there was a part of the design brief that he connected with straight away, which read, “It is thought that some of Sydney’s main thoroughfares, such as George Street, Oxford Street and King Street in Newtown, followed Aboriginal tracks that had served as trading routes between farmed grasslands or bountiful fishing areas’.” 

With this connection in mind, Bishop decided that he wanted to convey “the ancient story that Sydney’s streets are on” and that he wanted to “remind people of the land they are on in a positive way, the world has changed since the old ways, but the story is still there and Aboriginal people are still here.” 

“Ancient Tracks” will be on display until the end of this year whilst the Woolworths building is being repainted.

Close up of Woolworths building in Sydney city centre with artwork by Toby Bishop.

Close up of Woolworths building in Sydney city centre with artwork by Toby Bishop. Courtesy of NIT, 2022.

The Kungarakan artist also expressed that this opportunity has inspired him to transfer his graphic design skills from the 2D digital realm into the 3D public art space. He believes that the way an art space can tell a story and impact someone’s daily journey 

He loves how a public art space can not only tell a story, but it can impact the experience of someone’s journey, and potentially, spark conversations to help tell the country’s Indigenous narrative.

As a long term freelance graphic designer, Bishop has always been passionate about his creativity. In an interview with NIT (2022), he talked about how his nana’s art and traditional knowledge has been an inspiration for his own creative journey since day dot. 

“Nana persevered over 30 years to restore and revive our language to us, she was an inspiring artist and linguist,” he said.

“Her commitment was motivated by a promise to her mother and my great wetji [nana] – Margaret Edwards (McGuinness) to record the language of our country.”

Check out our previous post, discussing Australia’s New Indigenous Designed Nation Brand - a project in which Toby Bishop was the lead graphic designer creating the new logo on behalf of the Indigenous owned design and strategy studio Balarinji.

To see more of Toby’s works, check out his Instagram page here

At Yarn we love sharing the magnificent works of emerging First Nations artists. We are always on the lookout to partner with emerging and established First Nations artists to help them reach a wider audience and gain more recognition. All of the First Nations artworks we showcase are unique in their own ways. Whether it’s through colour choices, line work, symbols or totems, they all derive from strong voices that speak of country, culture, and the Dreamtime.