In light of NSW Police’s reinvestigations of historical hate crimes, ACON and Waverley Council are asking the LGBTQI community to have their say on shortlisted designs for the Bondi Memorial public artwork in Tamarama’s Marks Park.

The permanent memorial will acknowledge those who were targeted during the epidemic of hate-fuelled violence estimated to have claimed more than 88 gay men and transgender women’s lives across NSW between 1970 and 2000.

Following an open tender callout for artworks commemorating victims and survivors, six concept designs have now been shortlisted for the community to provide feedback.

ACON CEO, Nicholas Parkhill, noted that the recent reinvestigation of historic hate crimes by NSW Police means that Sydney is entering a new era in remembrance, and solidarity.

 Parkhill pointed to the breakthrough investigation into the 1988 murder of Scott Johnson as proof that justice must be commemorated.

“The events of this dark chapter in Sydney’s history have left a painful legacy that continues to be felt today,” he said.

“The recent breakthrough in the case of Scott Johnson highlights the importance of continuing to strive for truth and justice.

“Since 2016, ACON has been working in partnership with Waverley Council towards the development of this artwork, which will help in acknowledging the past and also in looking to the future.

“Each of the shortlisted designs are unique, and I urge our communities to add their voice in shaping this important monument.”

 Many gay men and trans women lost their lives in NSW due to hate-fuelled violence, especially in areas along the Bondi coastline and Marks Park, which were known gay beats at the time.

Bungled Police investigations, and complacent homophobic attitudes, meant that many crimes were left unsolved or deemed as suicides.

Ross Warren and John Russell are merely two of the unsolved gay hate crime cases that occurred in Marks Park during the 80’s. Both men either went missing or were found dead in 1989 merely a year after Johnson was murdered.

John Russell was a barman working in the eastern suburbs who was found dead at the clifftop in Marks Park on 23 November 1989.

In 2015, NSW police announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to a conviction and now consider his death a “probable gay-hate crime.”

 James Brooking, the cousin of John Russell, said the memorial would be an essential tribute to those we have lost to hate and prejudice – especially in cases where justice has been delayed, or may never be found.

“Far too many people were taken away from us during this period and many cases, like my cousin John, remain unsolved,” he said. “The Bondi Memorial will acknowledge the victims of these horrific crimes and become a symbol of remembrance and healing for our family and all left behind. A definite place to go to reflect, seek comfort and pray John is at peace.”

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, discussed the final six shortlisted designs, which she says are unique in capturing the essence of the Bondi Memorial Project and honouring those who the LGBTQI community lost.

“This artwork will serve as a place for people to reflect and seek solace as well as be a beacon of hope for an inclusive future,” she said. “I encourage all corners of the community to provide their feedback on the designs as this will assist in us selecting a final design to be commissioned.”

 The six shortlisted artists and their design proposals shown in the gallery below, are:

  • Design 1: Jane Cavanaugh
  • Design 2: William Eicholtz
  • Design 3: Studio Trobec
  • Design 4: Jane Irwin and McGregor + Westlake Architecture
  • Design 5: Aspect
  • Design 6: Urban Arts Projects
  • Bondi Memorial – Shortlist 1 – Jane Cavanaugh
  • Bondi Memorial – Shortlist 2 – JILA Architects
  • Bondi Memorial – Shortlist 3 – Studio Trobec
  • Bondi Memorial – Shortlist 4 – UAP
  • Bondi Memorial – Shortlist 5 – ASPECT
  • Bondi Memorial – Shortlist 6 – William Eicholtz

Consultation on the shortlisted designs will be open until July 5, 2020 – input is welcomed and can be made here.

Waverley Council has already committed $100,000 for the commissioning of the memorial, and ACON is also doing their bit in fundraising from the community – donations can be made here.

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