Dura Gunga: New Artwork Unveiled at Sunshine Coast Council City Hall

Image source: Contributed

Visitors to Sunshine Coast Council City Hall in Maroochydore City Centre will now be welcomed by Dura Gunga (Mullet & Sea Eagle) – a bold, striking sculpture by Kabi Kabi artist and cultural leader Lyndon Davis, which highlights the stories of our region and embodies the richness of First Nations culture.

Excitement levels were sky-high as Lyndon Davis’ Dura Gunga (Mullet & Sea Eagle) sculpture was unveiled at the entrance to Sunshine Coast Council City Hall! 

A project that’s been months in the making, this creative, compelling work – featuring three huge black mullet crafted from aluminium, painted with black automotive paint and hand-painted with red detail – acts as a conduit for Kabi Kabi stories and helps to educate visitors about the very land under their feet.

Mid-winter was the perfect season to unveil the piece, as Lyndon explained.

“In wintertime the sea mullet, Dura, is running, and we have indicators out there in our bush,” he said. 

“The red stringybark tree shares its name with the fish, Dura, and when it sheds its bark that’s one of the signs the fish are coming. The sea eagles, Gunga, are an important part of the story because they’re the ones who teach us when to start the hunt and where we’re allowed to hunt. The law of the ocean is governed by the sea eagle, Gunga, and Dura is his favourite food.”

As a highlight of the prestigious Sunshine Coast Art Collection and an important cultural landmark that will stand in place for decades to come and beyond, Lyndon hopes the sculpture will help make First Nations stories more accessible to all.

“A lot of our Aboriginal stories do get lost and you can only access them at particular events, but this is a central place where you can access a piece of Aboriginal content and learn about it,” he said. “Once people know of that connection between the sea mullet and the sea eagle, they’ll be educated and see it for themselves – it’s part of this landscape’s story.”

Rather than simply commissioning one artist to create the work destined for this location, Sunshine Coast Council created an innovative mentorship program, which saw three local First Nations artists – Lyndon Davis, Maurice Mickelo, and Hope O’Chin – creating a concept design under the guidance of renowned public arts practitioner Brian Robinson, where they developed new transferable skills and learnt more about the field of public arts to apply to their own practices.

Lyndon’s concept was eventually chosen by the skilled panel, and has now been beautifully brought to life by the artist – acting as a permanent reminder of the rich culture we have here on the Sunshine Coast. 

“I’m very excited and very privileged to see my artwork standing here today,” Lyndon said. 

“I’ve been doing work in the community for many years now, doing a lot of cultural business – from Aboriginal dance and storytelling to bus tours and public arts installations – but this one is huge. I never thought I’d be the chosen artist for the Sunshine Coast Council building! I feel very privileged.”

The sculpture was unveiled by Lyndon and Sunshine Coast Mayor Rosanna Natoli, who said Dura Gunga fits the location perfectly. 

“The Sunshine Coast is thriving with artistic talent, and an abundance of creativity expressed in a variety of forms. At Council, we’re living true to our Healthy, Smart, Creative vision by supporting wonderful projects just like this,” she said.

“Art in public places not only enriches the community, it encourages connection and a sense of place – it’s a celebration of culture.”

Kabi Kabi elder Aunty Helena Gulash performed the Welcome to Country and opened the event, remarking that Lyndon had made his entire family and community proud.

“Lyndon has made his family, the Chilli family, proud for a long, long time but he has also made all of us, the Kabi Kabi people, extremely proud through his talent and his big heart, which comes with such integrity,” she said.

“We look forward to Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi and Jinibara stories being front and centre of a dynamic First Nations arts and cultural sector that will grow incredibly over the coming years.”

The sculpture has been created for all to appreciate and enjoy, so make sure you head along to the Sunshine Coast Council’s City Hall Lightning Lane entrance at 54 First Avenue to see (or should that be ‘sea’?) it for yourself next time you’re in Maroochydore City Centre!

 

About the Author /

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Rebecca is a writer and editor with a passion for connecting people and brands through storytelling. When she's not writing or reading you might find her exploring cute hinterland towns, stomping along a forest track, or hanging out at the beach with her husband, two kids and rascally sheepdog.

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