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Combining traditional culture and art produces urban sculpture

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An Aboriginal man in a suit standing in front of a large outdoor metal sculpture.
Adam King and his sculpture that was a part of the recent ‘Sculpture at Barangaroo’ Event.
4 Oct 2017

Using metal in sculpture is nothing new in the art world, but when Adam King started using this material to form new creations, he found a lasting platform to showcase his culture.

Adam, a Dharug man originally from Parramatta in Sydney’s west, established the Urban Sculpture Aboriginal Corporation in a small community outside Dubbo in late 2016 to bring to his vision to life.

“I want to combine traditional Aboriginal culture with contemporary art skills, to design and produce unique artwork that showcases this culture,” Adam said.

“And hopefully I can create training and employment opportunities in the local Indigenous community at the same time.”

Urban Sculpture designs and produces metal artwork, sculptures, wall art and custom design art which often has a practical element; such as a fire pit.

Traditionally, metal has not been used as the basis for Aboriginal artwork, something which drew Adam to that medium.

“I began working with metal because no one else was doing it and I found that I could use it to express myself and my culture, like my recent work featuring cut outs of 56 Dharug people and some kookaburras.

“The sculpture features some nieces of mine and includes other Dharug women who are really proud to be included as they feel part of something big.”

Orange and white painting on corrugated iron of a tree branch with leaves.
Adam King’s (Urban Sculpture) artwork design showcases Aboriginal culture.

Adam plans to sell his artwork across Australia and eventually internationally through art galleries, retail outlets and online. Additionally, Adam undertakes custom design work and Urban Sculpture has been approached to design and construct residential gazebos.

The process of cutting the designs is currently outsourced as Urban Sculpture doesn’t own the required metal cutting machinery, which leads to lengthier production times, difficulties in securing a reliable cutter, and additional costs.

To solve these problems, Adam successfully applied for grant funding to the Australian Government’s Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund. Urban Sculpture can now purchase the equipment required to meet the growing demand for Adam’s striking artwork, expand the business, teach people from different backgrounds about Aboriginal art and design, and provide employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people.

“I want to get young people into sculpture so they express themselves in their work and hopefully earn enough money to make it a career,” Adam said.

Meanwhile, Adam will continue to take inspiration from Aboriginal culture to produce arresting and thought provoking art.

Find out more

Adam is one example of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs whose business ideas have the potential to transform their communities, but lack the business assets to turn those ideas into reality.

In response, the Australian Government has introduced the Indigenous Entrepreneurs Fund, which is supporting the growth and diversity of the Indigenous business sector by working with and supporting innovative Indigenous businesses in regional and remote areas.

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