Hospitality Business Magazine

AccorHotels introduces Australia’s first Indigenous-inspired ibis hotel

Shannon Foster

Shannon Foster

To coincide with National Reconciliation Week 2016, AccorHotels will unveil its very first Indigenous-inspired ibis hotel in Australia at Sydney Olympic Park on Thursday 2 June, celebrating the hotel’s local links with Indigenous community, culture, and art.

In partnership with Balarinji – an Indigenous-owned creative agency best known for conceptualising Indigenous art on Qantas aircrafts and most recently the textile design for the Rio 2016 Australian Paralympic Team uniform – AccorHotels commissioned Sydney-based artist, educator and D’harawal Saltwater Knowledge Keeper, Shannon Foster, to create bespoke and exclusive artwork for its ibis Sydney Olympic Park hotel.

Titled Wanne Gurad (2016), this work has been inspired by Shannon’s work teaching Aboriginal Studies and Environmental Education on Wangal Country in the Badu Mangroves of Sydney Olympic Park.

Shannon has successfully woven the story of the local area’s rich cultural history into her watercolour elements (pictured), which represent the spirit of the Rainbow Serpent as it weaves its way through the landscape to create the Parramatta River and its meandering estuaries. The animals of the local area have been depicted using the traditional Sydney based Aboriginal art technique of stencil printing in the same style as can be seen throughout the ancient sandstone shell middens across Sydney.

AccorHotels Pacific Chief Operating Officer, Simon McGrath says, “Reconciliation and supporting Indigenous Australia is part of the way we do business. Our goal is to create a more culturally connected organisation to enable authentic storytelling throughout our hotels, leading to more engaging experiences for our guests.

“We are proud to work with long-standing partner Balarinji and artist Shannon Foster to unveil the first Indigenous-inspired ibis hotel in Australia. This project forms part of our wider commitment to Reconciliation, creating more Indigenous employment opportunities and supporting local community and business groups.

“This project, and Shannon’s art and Balarinji’s design, not only reflect our rich history as a country, but highlight the opportunities we have to promote our Indigenous culture to the Australian public and the many international visitors and guests that we have coming through our doors every day of the year.”

Shannon Foster comes from a long line of notable Sydney Aboriginal people including activists Tom and Eliza Foster; performer and La Perouse snake man Fred Foster; Botanist and Aboriginal Scientist Aunty Fran Bodkin; Environmental Educator Uncle John Lennis and Aboriginal Liaison Officer and artist, her father, John Foster. She has been teaching her family’s stories for over twenty years to a range of audiences in learning institutions such as Taronga Zoo, Australia Museum, Sydney University and Australian Catholic University.

Shannon will join Simon McGrath and Balarinji Chairman and football legend John Moriarty to introduce the new indigenous art work at the ibis Sydney Olympic Park next week. Dr Moriarty says, “Balarinji is excited for the opportunity to work with an iconic brand like ibis on this inaugural and iconic indigenous art project. We commend AccorHotels for its vision, enthusiasm and leadership in supporting supplier diversity and reconciliation, not only during National Reconciliation Week but every day of the year.”

AccorHotels recently worked with Ros and John Moriarty in support of their Indigenous Football Week program and community focused Nangala Project, Balarinji’s affiliated not-for-profit initiative.

This latest partnership and announcement highlights ibis Sydney Olympic Park’s commitments to Reconciliation with the goal of becoming the leading Indigenous Hotel Program in Australia by 2018.