The Sea of Hands is ANTaR's primary public education initiative and Australia's largest public art installation. The Sea of Hands has been installed in every major city and many regional locations throughout Australia, and continues to gather signatures everywhere it appears. The Sea of Hands represents the ‘people’s movement’ of ordinary Australians who want to see a genuine reconciliation process between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
The Sea of Hands is ANTaR's primary public education initiative and Australia's largest public art installation. The Sea of Hands has been installed in every major city and many regional locations throughout Australia, and continues to gather signatures everywhere it appears. The Sea of Hands represents the ‘people’s movement’ of ordinary Australians who want to see a genuine reconciliation process between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
There are a number of ways you can support the Sea of Hands campaign for reconciliation.
Buy a Sea of Hands pin. You can buy pins for yourself or buy in bulk to sell as a fundraiser at your school, university, workplace or community event. Pins can be purchased through the ANTaR online shop.
Hold a Sea of Hands event. You can borrow for a small donation hands for a community installation by contacting ANTaR NSW via antarnswseaofhands(at)gmail.com.
Hold a Sea of Hands schools event. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a Sea of Hands Schools Kit. This is a resource created to support teachers to plan classroom activities which promote the theme of reconciliation using the Sea of Hands. The Sea of Hands is a great activity for students, particularly if it supports work being done in the classroom. Some schools have also incorporated students' own hand designs and artworks within the installations, enabling students to make a more personal response to the event. ANTaR NSW can provide hands and poles which can be used by your school to create a Sea of Hands installation.
The Sea of Hands was originally conceived in 1997 as a creative way of symbolising opposition to the Federal Government's moves to restrict Indigenous native title rights following the High Court’s Wik decision. The Wik decision had recognised the coexistence of native title on pastoral and other leasehold land but the Government rejected a response based on coexistence.
Australian Artists Against Racism (AAAR) transformed ANTaR’s Citizen’s Statement on Native Title (a petition which had attracted thousands of signatories), into the brilliant concept of the Sea of Hands.
The hands are made of a flexible, recyclable plastic supported by wire stalks. Many volunteers were involved in the huge task of assembling and boxing the hands.
The first Sea of Hands – Canberra 1997
The first Sea of Hands was held on the 12 October 1997. 70,000 coloured plastic hands, each one carrying one signature from the Citizen’s Statement, were installed in front of Parliament House in Canberra. Six weeks later the Sea of Hands returned to Parliament House with 120,000 hands, to launch a blueprint for a coexistence approach to native title – the “Six-Steps to Coexistence”. The “Six Steps” document was endorsed by all the major opposition parties and representatives from national peak organisations. So popular was the first Sea of Hands in Canberra that over 500 volunteers turned up before work on the day to help plant the hands!Three million hands later…
The Sea of Hands continues as a vibrant force. To date, over three million hands have been planted in hundreds of locations around Australia and even internationally! Thousands of volunteers have been involved in organising and setting up these Sea of Hands installations and many hundreds of thousands more have enjoyed and marveled at the spectacle. The Sea of Hands has been installed in every major city and hundreds of regional locations throughout Australia, and continues to gather signatures everywhere it appears. It has also travelled to Britain, Northern Ireland and South Africa.
The six colours of the Sea of Hands represent the colours of the Aboriginal flag (red, black and yellow), the Torres Strait Islander flag (blue, green, black and white), and the Australian flag.
Each Sea of Hands is a unique event, and wherever possible is designed by a local Indigenous artist, using symbols and themes appropriate to the Indigenous traditions of that region.
“ANTaR and the Sea of Hands are fundamental to the achievement of justice and Reconciliation in this country”.
– Patrick Dodson, former Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.
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