Make A Wish
Take a walk to Turners Beach, Yamba and you will see four bronze wishbones alongside the carpark. They appear to be incompatible to the surrounding seascape. So what motivated local artist Cass Samms when she sculptured her ‘Furcula’ in 2011
The Clarence River has a rich history of fishing, gathering, aquaculture and river based recreation. The rituals and symbolism of these activities form the concepts for the sculpture.
Boats are synonymous with the river and the river mouth. Turners Beach is where they must cross the “bar” to enter or leave the river. The artist envisaged that the sculpture would be a subtle recognition of the boats that have gone down when crossing the bar and to those people who have lost their lives.
Traditionally many sailors had superstitions and rituals when going to sea. Many of these rituals have a practical function: Rhymes to remember weather patterns or navigation, or other more frivolous rituals. Since a river bar can be a dangerous, superstitious behaviour or rituals can be used to bring luck for a safe crossing. This is a link to the sculpture as a presentation of ‘wish bones’.
The ritual is that when two people pull on a forked ‘furcula’ bone until it breaks, whoever gets the largest piece can make a wish. This custom of breaking the wishbone dates back to the 17th century. Perhaps used by the crew of a fishing or pleasure boat to make a wish for safe passage.
The sculptural formation of the four wishbones is also symbolic of the ribbed armature of boats, especially older style ones that reveal their internal structures. In this the sculpture memorialises derelict boats that have washed onto river banks after a flood and left to decompose.
The wishbone sculpture is additionally reminiscent of a large marine mammals’ ribcage, such as a whale. Whales are something one could encounter on this coast when washed ashore after rough weather, disease or an accidental event.