Cultural artwork project recognised by Reconciliation Australia

Date published: 20 June 2018

An artistic project that has provided improved facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members mourning their loved ones at the Belgian Garden was unveiled today.

The Traditional Artwork Project – funded by Townsville City Council – has created a new bench seating area covered in artworks depicting traditional scenes from the ocean and sunset to the rainbow serpent and native birds – each individual piece having a story behind it.

The project has been recognised by Reconciliation Australia as one of the top five projects chosen from thousands of Reconciliation projects around Australia.  The project embodies the core priority areas of Reconciliation; Respect, Relationships and Opportunity and it will be showcased in a short documentary.

Community and Cultural Development Committee Chair Councillor Colleen Doyle said the improved facilities would provide members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community a more comfortable place to grieve.

“The Traditional Owners and Elders requested seating in the area for the community and from that conversation further discussions evolved about how we could improve the facilities,” Cr Doyle said.

“This section of the Cemetery formally did not have seating for family, friends or loved ones so it is great that we’ve been able to work with the Traditional Owners and Elders to be able to create this space,” Cr Doyle said.

“The three artists – Jordan Wyles, Nicky Bidju-Pryor and Ian Kaddy – have certainly done an amazing job.”

The project involved detailed consultation with Traditional Owners and Elders and commissioning local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists to undertake the artwork.

Councillor Doyle said the project was started through a conversation with Traditional Owners and Elders about the cultural beliefs, practices and customs around the death and burial of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

“As a community I think it is important to have a conversation on the cultural beliefs around Sorry Business and the traditional beliefs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,” Cr Doyle said.