Skip links

The 560 carved wooden heads throughout the Newtown Cultural Precinct

560 carved wooden heads
PHOTO Jennifer van den Bussche of Sticky Situations

The 560 carved wooden heads dotted on plinths throughout the Newtown Cultural Precinct reflect a sea of faces from Africa. The artists, Simon Guambe, Petrus Matsolo, Dan Guambe and Joe Matola, intended these heads to reflect African diversity. They symbolise how, for the better part of the last century, Newtown was home to thousands of migrants from throughout Africa and the world.
     A team of artists will soon be refurbishing The Heads of Africa sculptures, which have been much-loved by the public, becoming a distinctive feature of the Newtown Cultural Precinct over the past 15 years.
     By now, however, many of the artworks are either missing or in poor condition, hence the need for the current intervention. A team of artists has been assembled, led by Americo Guambe, one of the artists involved in the original creation of the heads. The artists will be sculpting new heads to replace those which are now missing or damaged beyond repair. At the same time, they will repair and refurbish those existing heads which still remain serviceable.
    Over the next few months, the initial focus will be on restoring the integrity of the artworks lined up along the central walkway of Mary Fitzgerald Square, where there are plinths for about 80 heads. The plinths – which are now in bare concrete – will be decorated with colourful mosaic designs. Later in the year, the work will be extended to other parts of Newtown.
     Made from disused railway sleepers, the Newtown heads are drawn from different countries and traditions from across the African continent.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.