Maitland’s new hospital to celebrate traditional culture


A wedgetail eagle, the Hunter River and Wonnarua Elders will be featured as part of a unique artwork at Maitland’s new hospital.

Wonnarua artist Saretta Fielding is the talent behind the new veranda design, which also includes images of community members walking together and local wetlands.

This installation is the first of its kind to be used in Australia at such a large scale.

Ms Fielding says the arbour uses slim bricks, known as Flexbrick, to create patterns of traditional symbolism that pay homage to the culture of the Wonnarua people.

“It reflects connection to country and invites the community to celebrate and learn through visual storytelling,” she said.

“The design shares the ongoing story of the Wonnarua people – past, present and future.”

Ms Fielding visited the site, currently under construction at Metford Road in East Maitland, to see her vision well on the way to completion.

She said the design also acknowledged Aboriginal people as the longest living culture in the world, and the valuable knowledge such cultures bring to the wider community.

But she also admits that bringing the arbour to life isn’t a feat she achieved alone.

Ms Fielding says the design was created in collaboration with Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council, Kiray Putjung Aboriginal Corporation, the broader community, and the new Maitland Hospital development project team.

“And after all our hard work and seeing it being installed, I know it will bring a sense of welcome to everyone. I can’t wait to see it finished,” Ms Fielding said.

The 75-metre installation will act as an undercover walkway for pedestrians travelling between the northern carpark and main entrance.

It’s expected to be completed in early 2021, with the overall hospital set to open in early 2022.