National Connections at Caloundra Regional Gallery

Image source: Photographer Jude Hammond

The Sunshine Coast’s art scene is thriving with an amazing First Nations exhibition plus an exciting new take on a 19 year art prize, as Melanie Rosettenstein discovers.

The Sunshine Coast art scene is flourishing and for art lovers, Caloundra Regional Gallery is showing where it’s at this winter. With plenty of exciting events and exhibitions for all ages, visitors to the gallery’s upcoming exhibitions can foster a connection to country while also learning about the wider national art scene.

Currently on display, the Contemporary Songlines – Dhakkan/Mundagudda (Rainbow Serpent) and Maroochy (Black Swan) Project is the result of a year-long collaboration with First Nations youth and women that showcases local First Nations stories and culture.

Led by Project Creator and proud Gunggari/Kamilaroi elder, Aunty Jude Hammond, with the support of First Nations cultural arts trainee Jaiva Davis (Gubbi Gubbi), this project is a collaboration between the nationally-acclaimed Bangarra Youth Rekindling Dance Project, four regional state high schools, First Nations Traditional Gubbi Gubbi Custodians, Dancers, Traditional Weavers, Filmakers, Musicians and young talented Composer.

Aunty Jude also worked with Project Auspice North Coast Aboriginal for Community Health, Cooroy Butter Factory Arts Centre, other agencies and local councils.

The Contemporary Songlines exhibition features a multi-media art project that reflects the cultural engagement activities undertaken by young, local indigenous people throughout the project, helping them connect with their heritage and feel proud of their identity in a safe space.

The show includes a variety of ceramic and metal songline sculptures, as well as a seven-minute long film by Jon Coghill which documents the various cultural camps where First Nations students learnt about traditional dance and then created contemporary dances and songs in collaboration with classically-trained musicians and the Bangarra Rekindling Dance mob.

Emphasising the importance of traditional knowledge and practises in contemporary settings, the exhibition promotes reconnection with cultural roots and fosters cross-cultural understanding. Aunty Jude said the exhibition project aimed to provide First Nations Women and Youth with quality culturally relevant arts practices and experiences, to best support their engagement in learning new skills that explore their own cultural identity and traditions, whilst building here on their social relationships, belonging and sharing. 

“Participants also have the opportunity to showcase their deadly artworks with you mob in the broader community for cross-cultural sharing that promotes interconnected stories, such as connection with totem animals,” she said. “This creates positive social change with mutual respect, sharing and reconciliation. In breaking down stereotypes and stigmas, it will empower our mob and you to not only survive, but to thrive. Keeping the Fire Burning for all us mob this NAIDOC.”

To further engage the community, kids activities and a public program offer the chance for hands-on understanding and immersion into First Nations culture.

On 1 July, children will have the opportunity to express their creative sides while learning more about the stories and symbols of local Aboriginal culture with a morning workshop, Drawing our Dhakkan/Mundagudda (Rainbow Serpent) and afternoon session, Create an air-dried clay Coolamon.

A Yarnup with Aunty Jude Hammond and Creating Connections Together with Coolamon Making will form part of the Public Program for all ages. Places are limited so book early.

Continuing the excitement, the next exhibition on show is the Gallery’s flagship art awards – Sunshine Coast Art Prize, now in its 19th year and renamed as the Sunshine Coast National Art Prize (SCNAP). This visual arts award reflects Australia’s outstanding contemporary 2D and new media arts, and with a $25,000 first prize up for grabs and the chance for the winning piece to be acquired into the Sunshine Coast Art Collection, attracted 450 entries from every State and Territory in Australia.

Gallery Director Jo Duke said that the standard of entries had been exceptional, making the selection of the 40 Finalists for SCNAP24 extremely hard.

“The final works were selected based on their ability to widen the discourse on stories, ideas or current issues and whether the art itself shows an exceptional level of skill,”  she said.

The artworks offer diverse interpretations of our world through various mediums and will be launched in the gallery on 23 August with the showcase exhibition running from 24 August until 13 October with the Overall Winner and other prizes, including People’s Choice to be announced in October.

For art enthusiasts and the art-curious, SCNAP24 offers a great opportunity to see the works of some of Australia’s best artists.

“These artworks offer a profound and unapologetic interpretation of our world today,” Jo said.

“With a diverse portrayal of subjects in a range of styles from traditional oils and acrylics to new media and moving images, the show looks at celebrating, enlightening, confronting and engaging our community.

“An art prize of this calibre is highly beneficial to our region. Not only will audiences have the opportunity to view these exceptional artworks, this cultural activity will bring visitors to the region as well as key engaging events that will also boost the local economy.”   

Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or just beginning to explore this creative world, Caloundra Regional Gallery’s upcoming exhibitions and events promise an enlightening journey deep into the local and national artscape. 

Upcoming Exhibitions and Events:

UNTIL 18 August – Contemporary Songlines – Dhakkan/Mundagudda (Rainbow Serpent) and Maroochy (Black Swan) Project

1 July, 10.30am -12.00pm – Kids activity: Drawing our Dhakkan/Mundagudda (Rainbow Serpent)

1 July, 2.00 – 4.30pm – Kids activity: Create an air-dried clay Coolamon

8 July, 2- 3pm – Public program: Yarnup with Aunty Jude Hammond

1 August, 4.30 – 7.00pm – Public program: Creating Connections Together with Coolamon Making

24 August to 13 October – Sunshine Coast National Art Prize 2024

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