Connecting pioneering National Park Cities

Adelaide London artwork detail

Last week’s World Urban Parks Congress in Adelaide was a celebration of the importance of urban parks and green spaces for the health and wellbeing of all citizens.

This was an opportunity to bring together representatives of National Park Cities around the world and to formally celebrate Adelaide National Park City as the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve the status of a National Park City.

Alison Barnes, founding Trustee of London National Park City marked the occasion with the gift of an artwork from London National Park City Ranger and artist, Alisa Ruzavina titled ‘National Park Cities Pioneers’.

London and Adelaide at the World Urban Parks Congress

The team from London gifted this artwork to Adelaide in celebration of the connection between the two cities united by a shared mission, commemorating the deep love for nature and bold work it takes to be at the forefront of a growing global movement. The slogan also reminds whoever glances at the work that the change we want to see in the world should begin with us – our mindsets and values, our communities, our personal relationship with nature and how we affect nature spaces we live, visit and work with.

Nature in the details

The left of the artwork represents London’s natural landscape and the right – Adelaide’s. The presence of hands is inspired by the Aboriginal dreaming painting style where hands are a recurring element. The aster, a National Park City symbol, is positioned amidst a handshake between the two parties, with London’s side passing on the ‘seeds’ that have been dreamt up, tended to and energised by the first four years of London National Park City’s existence. The seeds are the ecological version of ‘passing on the baton’, acknowledging how the legacy of the initial National Park City vision is now growing, sprouting, and transforming on new lands. The right hand has the Aboriginal symbol for community painted on it, honouring the Adelaide’s intentions to cultivate a wide community of nature-connected people and as a way to acknowledge that turning a city into a National Park City must have communal effort at its heart.

Artwork detail


Artwork detail


Artwork detail


The two most culturally significant trees of two cities frame the view – oak representing London and Eucalyptus standing tall for Adelaide. At the heart of Adelaide’s landscape under the eucalyptus tree stands a Kaurna elder, holding a traditional shield made out of eucalyptus’ inner bark. The Kaurna elder can be seen performing a smoking ceremony and is about to ignite fire for a cultural burning practice that regenerates the land. The artwork highlights how advancing in the journey of reconciliation with First Nations people, their land knowledge and traditions is at the core of the ANPC mission for the ecological healing of Country.

At the forefront of the scene as River Thames and River Torrens / Karrawirra Parri merge into one, a beaver and a platypus, two priority species on the reintroduction agenda of each city, swim towards each other. The rivers’ meeting point is where the British white swan and the Australian black swan meet. London’s famous Red Admiral and Adelaide’s Genoveva Azure butterflies dance joyously with each other. Adelaide’s Rosella and London’s green ring-necked parakeet make some noise in the skies, while British common pipistrelle and Australian Grey Headed flying foxes rest on the branches. Adelaide’s famous Leigh Street tree martin is having a chat with London’s great tit, while Australian koala, laughing kookaburra and London’s great spotted woodpecker explore the trees.

And so may this rich exuberant exchange continue, with two cities learning from each other’s journeys, creatures and inhabitants; and may the movement’s shared goals, visions and dreams inspire many more cities worldwide to join this radical global movement.

London National Park City is incredibly grateful to the hard work of artist Alisa Ruzavina in producing this work, and is proud to celebrate the deep and growing connections with all within Adelaide National Park City.

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