Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2021 through arts and culture
  • Friday 25 June 2021
Melinda Serico with the possum skin cloak

An exhibition celebrating NAIDOC week 2021 - ‘Heal Country!’ opened at Caloundra Regional Gallery today (25 June) and features the work of local First Nations artists.

The NAIDOC 2021—Culture Remembered; Revitalised; Reactive exhibition is on show until 15 August and presents art, stories and cultural works which remember, revitalise and react to the telling of First Nations’ history and combined histories.

With works drawn from the Sunshine Coast Art Collection and the Cultural Heritage Collection, the show encourages connection with the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson, who officially opened the exhibition, said the Kabi Kabi and the Jinibara peoples were the original artists of this diverse and magnificent region.

“Arts and culture help tell our stories and help shape our identity—something so apparent in every piece on show in this exhibition,” Mayor Jamieson said.

One show highlight is a full-scale Kom'bar (bark canoe) hand-crafted from Swamp Mahogany by Kabi Kabi artists Lyndon Davis, Kerry Jones and Brent Miller.

Caloundra Regional Gallery Manager Jo Duke said traditionally, the canoes were skilfully created from one piece of bark – scarring, but not killing, the tree.

“Bark canoes were used for general transport and fishing, and often had a fire on a bed of wet clay or seaweed for warmth and cooking,” Ms Duke said.

Another highlight is an exquisite Kabi Kabi community possum skin cloak etched with traditional art and stories, which took an incredible six months to create. The making and wearing of cloaks is iconic to some First Nations cultures – imparting a sense of pride, kinship and connectedness to culture and Ancestors.

First Nations artist Melinda Serico, whose story is captured in a digital story, said she was inspired to bring a community group together to create the cloak after learning of the traditional techniques practised by her Aunty.

“The experience was absolutely wonderful. We connected regularly on Country, exchanging cultural knowledge, family connections, traditional art techniques and stories,” Ms Serico said

Ms Duke said for many First Nations artists, their works were about Country: Connection to; Loss of; Mourning for; and Re-connection and Celebration.

“Telling stories which note forgotten histories and stories not told celebrate and highlight the continuing connection to Country,  from the making of the canoe and cloak with traditional tools and methods, to the political works from artist such as Tony Albert, the late Gordon Bennett, Bianca Beetson, Michael Cook, Karla Dickens, and Fiona Foley.”

The exhibition looks at how artists celebrate their continuing link or their loss, through making.

First Nations public programs include

  • First Nations School Holiday Program at Bankfoot House 2 July
  • First Nations Family day at Bankfoot House 17 July
  • Award Winning First Nations virtual reality at Bankfoot House Wed – Sun 10-3pm
  • Evening with Melinda Serico and Lyndon Davis 6 August
  • Free art in a bag and Kids art trail 25 June – 15 August

Caloundra Regional Gallery is owned and managed by Sunshine Coast Council. The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday 10am – 4pm and weekends 10am – 2pm. Entry is free.

The Gallery offers a wide range of exhibitions and programs, including a gallery shop selling unique gifts made by local artists, free kids’ art bags and trails. The gallery is located at 22 Omrah Avenue Caloundra or visit us at: gallery.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/