Life/Blood: resistance and resilience

Life/Blood weaves together Bediagal narratives of place. This public art reflects the coming together of the many people who have, over time, come to call Punchbowl home.

About the artwork

Lucy Simpson’s Life/Blood reclaims Aboriginal Sydney, using the voices of generations past, present, and future.

It forms part of the suite of transparent artworks in station concourse windows at the 10 Southwest Metro Stations, from Marrickville to Bankstown, united by the theme Story Line.

This public art speaks of resistance and resilience, ongoing relationships, and the strength of Aboriginal life and connection to Country.

Simpson explains: "Life/Blood embodies the strength and resilience of the river and its tributaries, of the hidden beauty of floodplain country and the strength embedded in these lands that for generations has sustained and inspired so many – a significant piece of Bediagal, from saltpan creek to the cooks river."

The textures created were inspired by an 1803 engraving by British artist James Grant featuring the warrior Pemulwuy. The Bediagal man was one of the leaders of the Aboriginal rights movement in Sydney.

Simpson reclaimed this historical depiction, redrawing it and overlaying it with new stories. The letters of Bediagal were developed with creative community collaborations with local Aboriginal community members.

Appearing in reverse to the original work the artwork presents another side of history, an alternate perspective.

Artist Statement

"Punchbowl is nestled between both the Cooks and Georges Rivers. It almost touches both tributaries of Salt Pan Creek from Georges and Cox’s creek of the Cooks River. It is a significant place for many. It is beautifully rich, fertile country, and a point of much exchange and life for Aboriginal People of the area through time. It’s also a significant point along the major trade route between river communities, and connects inland communities with those living along the coast. 

Life/Blood celebrates connection, relationships, and exchange through moments of convergence and movement in everyday spaces. The artwork is a guided journey of place and time woven into the landscape.

It sheds light on the resistance and resilience of people and place past present and future. It rewrites the local history of Aboriginal Sydney with the perspectives of local First Nations communities.

The artwork celebrates and reclaims the many stories of strength woven into our river landscapes. It works to embed continuing narratives and acknowledge country, giving a voice and presence to that which is not known or often overlooked by so many. 

I wanted to reveal the conflict which happened in around this place over the care and ‘ownership’ of land. It was important to acknowledge ongoing movements of resistance, resilience, and political action. Life/Blood incorporates all of these things, a provider and sustainer of life, a symbol of strength and carrier of story - the line which connects and draws all together, but one perhaps not known by many. 

The artwork reflects the ’spaces that lie between’, touching on notions of presence of people and story in Sydney (or the absence of in many cases). It explores colonial narratives and those that were deliberately not told, joining a movement of reclamation of these narratives by marginalised and often ‘invisible’ people - we of Aboriginal Sydney.

I blew up portions of this lithograph, focusing specifically on patterns which articulate country. The series of lines that recreate the image give both the negative and positive space equal importance.

The large text of the artwork was created with the Canterbury Bankstown Aboriginal community. The colourful letters you see were painted by children in the community. The final artwork brings together past, present and future. Life/Blood was created in these moments of exchange and convergence - as we continue the story."

Artist Biography

Lucy Simpson is a Sydney-based artist and designer with a focus on storytelling and narrative to share aspects of country and contemporary South Eastern Aboriginal culture. She is a Yuwaalaraay woman belonging to the freshwater country of the Walgett and Angledool areas of North West New South Wales, an area from which she draws inspiration for much of her work.

She founded design studio and label ‘Gaawaa Miyay’ in 2009 and continues as the Artistic Director and Principal Designer.

Upon graduation in 2010 with a Bachelor of Design at the College of Fine Arts (now UNSW Art and Design), Simpson received the COFA Object Award in Design and the Longina Phillips Textiles Award. 

In 2014 Lucy was named one of the four recipients of the British Council’s Indigenous Creative Leadership Program.


This project was supported by the Canterbury / Bankstown Aboriginal Reference Group and Bankstown Arts Centre. It is based on the information provided by Sydney Metro as part of the culture and Heritage report provided by Indigenous design and strategy studio Balarinji for the Sydney Metro - City and Southwest line. 

Lucy Simpson is a Sydney based Yuwaalaraay woman / designer / maker (northwest NSW) and she pays her respects to the local custodians of Bediagal past, present and future. She thanks the local community and those that have supported this project for their generosity, guidance and time.

The 10 glass artworks from Marrickville to Bankstown were developed with the assistance of X Squared Design.