Cultural Creative Development Program – Bathurst Excursion
Big things are happening inside and outside at the gallery.
Read on to see what we’ve been up to + info on how you can score a 3-Course meal for 2!
Our Cultural Creative Development Plan is a deep end event for our young cohort of artists. As business comes through our door, they are engaged in every aspect of the process through to project completion. 2022 got off to to a cracking pace for our CCDP crew with Kane Brunjes (3rd year, Kabi Kabi/Gungerri) and Stevie O’Chin (2nd year Kabi Kabi/Wakka Wakka/Koa/Yuin) headed south to Wiradyuri Country to assist in the production of a mural created by Birrunga in consultation with his Elders, The Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders.
To say that Kane and Stevie excelled is an understatement in the extreme. They engaged beautifully in ceremony, engaged with the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders with respect and manners, and demonstrated a professionalism and work ethic second to none.
Birrunga asked them to recount their experiences in Bathurst, and in Canberra with Ian RT Colless (Lead of Indigenous Leadership Programs, NGA and Wesfarmers), who took them behind the scenes and hosted them on an official tour of the NGA.
Birrunga and Suzanne will return to Bathurst within a week to supervise the installation of the mural, pending an opening date for its official reveal to the public.
Read what Kane and Stevie had to say about the trip below:
“The trip started with an early wake up, a time before I begin to notice the songs harmonised by birds, or parked cars revving to their first gear. Travelling through the early morning it wasn’t long before I’d reached Stevie’s house, and then onto the highway we were. Our first stop was to get fuel, as well as what some call ‘motivation in a can’, or V’s to keep us sound on the long trip ahead.
We watched as the tree’s that accompanied us to either side begun to change, peered into the distant mountains, looked out on the in-betweens of country used for agriculture, and had stopped for some curried pies before we’d missed a suggested turn and ended up down a big dirt road. We came swooping around a bend seeing a crossing where we looked on at the rush of water as we passed over. It wasn’t before long that we reached Wiradyuri Country and pulled up to Culturally introduce ourselves and state our business to the Ancestors and Country. We were advised ahead of time as to where to go through that Ceremony by Aunt Wirribee and Uncle Dinawan of the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders. We then arrived in Bathurst where we were greeted by Suzie, Birrunga and Traditional Owners, Wiradyuri Elders Aunt Wirribee, and Uncle Dinawan, where we talked and shared a lovely Sunday roast.
We eased into Monday morning spending some time to check out the space and canvas we were to be painting, then caught up with Aunt Wirribee and Uncle Dinawan for a Morning tea where I remember gazing at some jam and cream to be added onto scones.
From here we moved about to Wahluu where we walked and went through ceremony to be Welcomed onto Country and received a gift of Wiradyuri Sacred White Ochre. Here, as before, and as would continue we had stories shared to us of Country, about the Protection of Country, and of Ceremony. Being here was very moving for myself, and being honoured to be part of sharing some of these stories through my involvement with the mural is something I’ll always hold with me. Up with a buzz and excitement, the Tuesday we would begin painting.
Over the next few days we continued to paint and the mural took shape seeing multiple stories in the singular piece. One being that we were painting in a location situated on a Sacred Songline. Nearing the completion Traditional Owner, Senior Loreman, Wiradyuri Elder Uncle Mallyan spent time alongside the piece and shared some more stories that’d been shown. We then went through Ceremony and travelled to Traditional Owner, Wiradyuri Elder Uncle Yanhadarambal’s home where we celebrated his birthday. From here we could see sacred Wiradyuri site, Bubay Wahluu, which is also present in the artwork. After spending some time at the mural the following day we were back on the road to meet Gundungurru Brother Ian RT Colless for a tour of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. This was followed by a dinner at Ian’s and I thought had finished after the entrée, as I considered it must’ve had to have been the main it was so good and big.
Conversations that eventuated at the Gallery and around the dinner table inspired thought to avenues of reach that would see growth and change in myself and my practice such as my involvement in possible National Leadership Programs. Thoughts alike have flowed on from my time spent on Wiradyuri country with the Elders, and working alongside Birrunga, Stevie, and Suzie. To always protect country, to enter with Respect and leave with it, and to honour the Legacy of our Old People before us.”
(Kabi Kabi/Gungerri – 3rd Year Birrunga Cultural Creative Development Program)
“Arriving at Bathurst on the 9th of January 2022, I was impressed with the scenery and natural beauty of Bathurst, the mountains and its surrounds. This trip was my first interstate in the past 2 and a half years (because of the pandemic), and this allowed me to not just be there for work, but spend time with Elders, which is something I haven’t had the chance to do in a long while. Sitting and listening to the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders & just being around them uplifted me, listening to them having a good laugh, telling their stories and talking about the good and the bad made me realise how much I’ve missed this and being around my family Elders.
At Wiradyuri scared mountain Wahluu, we were given a traditional Welcome to Country with a Smoking Ceremony and a number of Wiradyuri Cultural Ceremonies. This was something I had never experienced before. I’m so grateful for the Elders for welcoming me into their Country and sharing their knowledge and their most important sites. Although our visit was short, the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders and Bathurst in general had such a huge impact on me, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
I can honestly say I felt my best while working on this mural, I believe I can attribute that to the Elders and all the new knowledge imparted on me. I thoroughly enjoyed painting this with Birrunga and Kane as there was never a dull moment, we always had a good laugh. Even though we produced the mural in an unconventional manner (Painting the mural on its side), we still made it work and I felt very honoured and proud to be a part of telling these local Wiradyuri stories as they hold so much meaning to the Wiradyuri People. I look forward to going back, to reveal the mural to the town of Bathurst and most importantly, to the Elders who have worked with us in creating the story.
This [trip] was my first visit to Canberra and the National Art Gallery. The National Art Gallery was bigger than I ever imagined and I was amazed with its architecture and grandness.
It was very unusual and I have never seen anything like it before. We were shown around inside the gallery and behind the scenes by Ian R.T. Colless, to whom I’m very grateful for taking the time to give us a private tour. Ian is of the Dharabuladh/Therabluat clan of the Gundungurra people. Ian is the Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Coordinator, Indigenous Engagement with the NGA.
By the end of the day we spoke about which artworks we were drawn to the most, mine was by Thanakupi, it was three ceramic balls that were covered with animals and symbols. I read she was the first Indigenous Australian artist to build a thriving career in the ceramic medium. Thanakupi’s modern sculptural medium empowered her to share and memorialise ancestral narratives. Pottery has been a medium that has always resonated with me and hopefully one day, I will get to experience this and create art in another form. I felt honoured, inspired and very grateful for the time I spent there.”
(Wakka Wakka/Kabi Kabi/Koa/Yuin – 2nd Year Birrunga Cultural Creative Development Program)
We’d like to thank our Elders, and acknowledge the support of Stephen Champion GM of Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre who moved heaven and earth to facilitate the production stage of the project.