Milky Way over Harvey Dam

Year in Review 2020

Photo: Milky Way over Harvey Dam, Western Australia by Trevor Dobson

GML and Context CEO, Sharon Veale, reflects on the highlights and challenges of 2020.

Well in this the strangest of years, we have uncovered new understandings and ways of being in the world. Joan Didion wrote The Year of Magical Thinking in 2005 following the sudden death of her husband. It is a book that explores the complexity and strangeness of grief and absence as she tries to fathom what she might have done differently to change the course of events and find meaning. I think each of us have grappled with existential questions during 2020.

We started 2020 with bushfires of unprecedented severity and scale devastating our environment and many communities. For First Nations communities the Black Lives Matter movement gathered global attention, in Australia a light was once again shone on racism, inequality and truth telling. The destruction of irreplaceable heritage such as at Juukan Gorge ignited renewed calls for legislative reform.

Throughout it all, local communities, our clients and our resilient and hard-working team have found themselves adapting to and continuing to manage entirely different ways of living, working and communicating. Together, we have stayed calm and focussed through the challenges and uncertainties of 2020 and we are excited to share some of our highlights here. It is through the collective strength of these endeavours that we have been able to embolden our efforts during the year and for me it has been a great source of hope and inspiration.

Last year Context and GML each proudly celebrated 30 years in business. This year it was GML Canberra’s turn to party, marking their 15th year of business. Since that time the team has worked on some of Australia’s most significant heritage places, within the ACT and nationally. Congratulations to our talented Canberra team and our loyal collaborators and clients, the contribution to the continuing conservation and management of our ‘national estate’ is purposeful and meaningful. Special thanks to Principal, Rachel Jackson, who was there to open the doors in December 2005.

A wonderful highlight from the year was to be recognised with industry awards for our project work from National Trust NSW and National Trust ACT, the Australian Society for Historical Archaeology and docomomo.

In many ways I think this year has shown us just how important truth telling, history and heritage are to the life and wellbeing of communities and our nation.

We look forward to what we might accomplish in 2021, bringing our bold thinking, independence and talent to our client’s projects as we shape new futures for heritage.