Genestreams Songlines Sculptures Background & Costings

Background: The Genestreams Songlines Sculptures originates in the 1990s when Nyoongar Man, Dr Noel Nannup, began creating a map of the ‘Traditional Aboriginal Songlines of Australia’. Songlines describe the features and directions of travel, which were included in a song and had to be memorised and sung for the traveller to know the route to their destination.

More recently, various collaborators have worked to ‘layer’ the Songlines of a particular community with deep understanding of evolutionary processes, localised geology, biodiversity and natural history. A specific program by Artist Ben Beeton extended over 15 years, involved a number of Artist Residencies, and  public art projects that unite traditional knowledge with western science – referred to as SciArt ( Through this process Ben Beeton developed the notion of Genestreams. A Genestream is described as the sum total of a species gene pool, linking species through space and time. When a genestream stops flowing it means the species is extinct.  If it continues to flow it will eventually become a new species. The sum total of all Genestreams is referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’.

Through the initiative of Aunty Carol Pettersen the essence of this approach has been brought together in public art sculptures, called Genestreams Songlines Sculptures. The first of these was part-funded by the Regional Economic Development Fund. It was created at Twin Creeks Community Conservation Reserve (near the ancient Porongurup Range) in partnership with Friends of the Porongurups and Gondwana Link.

The Genestreams Songlines Sculpture consists of two sculptures that operate as one.

  1. The outside of the sculpture features the work of Aboriginal artists of the region.  This is the Songlines Sculpture.
  2. The inside of the sculpture is a phylogenetic tree of selected regional species, which speaks of the ecology, geology and deep time history of the region.  This is a Genestreams Sculpture.

A collaboration has formed to develop further sculptures – involving Noongar leaders Aunty Carol Pettersen and Dr. Noel Nannup.

The Genestreams Songlines Sculpture depicts species as upright totems that users can interact with through the artwork and, potentially, through a virtual and augmented reality experience. It is possible that an augmented reality experience could be developed to enhance visitors experience of the Genestreams Songlines Sculptures.

The baseplate of the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture depicts a ‘phylogenetic tree’ which grows through a diagram of the geological time scale indicating the connections and common ancestry of 16 selected local species. This also directs users to the relevant (totems) associated artworks. The 16 species are selected in consultation with the local indigenous community and local field naturalists. Special consideration is given to threatened species. Selecting totem species and creating the art for a Genestreams Songlines artwork is the first stage of the project via a consultation process which may at times include an Artists in Residence program.

Aunty Carol Petersen’s vision is for Genestreams Songlines Sculptures to function as a trail that promotes songlines, local conservation efforts, create community cohesion and celebrate the regions natural assets. Neighboring communities would work together to create networks of Genestreams Songlines Sculptures that celebrate their indigenous culture and the similarities and differences in their ecology and geology.

The project team further describes the potential for the sculptures to incentivise local rock gardens, native botanic gardens, herbaria and florilegia, with ongoing community engagement programs to celebrate local flora, cultural connections and the genestreams.

Details of the internal art for the Twin Creeks Genestreams Songlines Sculpture

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture initiative in action

Example 1: The first Genestreams Songlines Sculpture was installed at Twin Creeks in south-western Australia. Twin Creeks Conservation Reserve is one of the few remaining protected bush properties in this agricultural region and is part of the Oyster Harbour Catchment Group/ Ranges Link Project. The Reserve is a mixture of remnant bush, revegetation and regrowth.

Example 2: The Shire of Mount Magnet engaged Ben Beeton and Mali Moir to undertake an Artists in Residence project to design and develop a Genestream Songlines Mural in collaboration with twelve local indigenous artists and three local non indigenous artists for the 2021 Astro Rocks Fest. This included consultation with elders and scientists, including from Geological Survey of Western Australia, to develop a broad understanding of the regions ecology, geology and deep time history which is shared on the SciArt webpage and films. The project was presented by Aunty Carol Pettersen and Ben Beeton at Astro Rocks Fest 2021. The artwork, research and films from the residency is featured on –

Combination of the internal and external artwork for the Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Sculpture
Mount Magnet Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Mural


We offer two options for communities interested in developing a Genestreams Songlines Sculpture. Note – Artists engaged in the project keep their original artworks. Payment is made to the artist as a usage fee for a digital reproductions based on their original artwork and a recorded artist statement about their art. In total 30 artworks are required for this project, 15 artworks for the Songlines Sculpture art and 15 artworks for the Genestreams Sculpture art.

Option 1

A notional budget for the art for the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture and the construction of the Genestreams Songlines Sculptures.

Stage 1: $4,500

  • phylogenetic tree construction based on species selection, research, digital design and art for the phylogenetic tree base plate of the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture
  • a digital concept image of the Genestreams Songlines Art featuring the work of contributing artists
  • 3d digital concept model of the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture
  • accommodation if required

Stage 2: $3,750

  • licensing of the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture
  • consultation and guidance in development

Stage 3: $50,610

  • licensing for reproduction of the Aboriginal art
  • Genestreams Songlines Sculpture construction, delivery, installation
  • research, documentation and webpage development for online learning when experiencing the sculpture

Total = $57,860 (approximately $58,000)

Optional Extras

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Mural (digital print of art) – $1,330 Price Approximation .

Printing artwork onto canvas for mural, size 120 x 168cm x 2 = $710

Canvas stretching for mural, size 120 x 168cm x 2 = $620

Option 2

A notional budget for the art for the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture and the construction of the Genestreams Songlines Sculptures.

Stage 1: $18,000 for the creation of the art, research, website development, documentation for the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture.

Stage 2: $3,750 for the licensing and consultation for the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture

Stage 3: $36,110 for the construction, delivery and installation of the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture

Total = $57,860 (approximately $58,000)

Stage 1

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture art, research, webpage & film documentation in consultation and collaboration with the community – $18,000

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture license for digitally reproducing the art – $9,000

Songlines Artwork = $4,500 – Aboriginal Art from the local community artists. The 15 images can be sourced from existing artworks or created specifically for this project.

Genestreams Artwork = $4,500 Scientific illustration, field studies Genestreams Songlines Sculpture SciArt Team with local artists.

The digital images of the art may be used in the following 3 ways

  1. A digital art wall print showcasing all of the Genestreams Songlines Art in the form of a mural for public display
  2. A digital print adhered to aluminum for the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture
  3. Promotional and educational material and publications

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Stage 1 project management, community engagement, webpage development, film documentation, scientific research = $9,000

For every Genestreams Songlines Sculpture a webpage is developed which provides a broad and in-depth amount of content on the project as listed below. One such example is Mount Magnet

  1. Research and documentation – research and selection of the 15 species through community consultation, consultation with scientists. Research on the ecology, geology and deep time history of the region,
  2. Phylogenetic tree of selected species – research & design of construction of phylogenetic tree base plate.
  3. As Above, So Below – connecting the stories of the stars with the story of the rocks.
  4. Plant Collection – collecting and pressing of plants for herbarium.
  5. Film clips – filming and editing short film clips featuring cultural, scientific, and artistic perspectives that informed the artwork.
  6. Webpage development – online learning and teaching platform for self-drive tourism purposes and global exposure.
  7. Digitizing Artworks for use – postage of original artworks for scanning and scanning of original artworks. Please note; the nominated community project manager will be responsible for delivering the artworks for scanning. After scanning, the artworks will be returned to the community project manager.
  8. Public art production and installation – preparing all artwork for digital printing in preparation for installation of sculpture.

Optional Extras

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Mural (digital print of art) $1,330 Price Approximation .

Printing artwork onto canvas for mural, size 120 x 168cm x 2 = $710

Canvas stretching for mural, size 120 x 168cm x 2 = $620

Stage 2

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture licensing – $3,750

Payable to Gondwana Link for the licensing and collective overheads in establishing and operating the Genestreams Songlines Sculpture program.

Stage 3

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Construction – $36,110

Genestreams Songlines Sculpture Estimated Costings 2021 – price may vary depending on market  
Sculpture Fabrication $17,000
Galvanising                                                         $2,700
All fixings’ bolts and nuts, dyna bolts, dyes      $80
Sundries, plastic insulators and Vaseline.        $50
UV protected laminate digital printing of Art attached to aluminum sheeting $6,080
Rubber edging.                        $700
Laser Etching $2,000
Surrounding Seasonal Calendar Native Garden – digital design, consultation, planning with community    
Torbay Hills Studio, sculpture delivery, transport costs, foundation creation (not including concrete and steel cost) installation and pallet.           $5,500

Total.                                                                    $36,110

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