Blessings on Singing Up Spirit of the Land

Welcome to Country by Uncle Bob Anderson at the opening of Singing Up Spirit of the Land. Raymond Walker eldest grandson of Oodgeroo of the Tribe Noonuccal reads his grandmothers poem Glad Tomorrow, blessing song and Garinga da Gana. He shares the translation. Film and editing by Paul Bishop.

Singing Up Spirit of the Land, March 28 – May 9 2021

Distinguished Ngugi elder and Quandamooka Traditional Owner Uncle Bob Anderson (Dr. Robert Anderson OAM) is the focus of art exhibition Singing Up Spirit of the Land. Contemporary digital and painted portrait work capture not just likeness of the elder, but spiritual meaning behind sand minings end on Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island in 2019, a result of native title determinations granted to the Quandamooka peoples in 2011. The integrity of these artworks are testament to an enduring relationship between Aboriginal elder Uncle Bob Anderson and artist Jo Fay Duncan who identifies as an ecological artist and second generation Scot, residing on Quandamooka Country. 

At 92, Uncle Bob is a living legend. His legacy concerns not only Native Title determinations over Quandamooka Country but also Aboriginal rights in the work place. These artworks are a tribute to him, an honouring of the ancestors and hope for a better world for our descendants. 

This exhibition encapsulate a body of work that articulates a remarkable window, to the complex and living culture of those of and living on  Quandamooka country; both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal at the time of minings end on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). It bespeaks of reconciliation in action in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations and in our collective relationship to Country – be it the homelands of our ancestors or those of anothers.

Uncle Bob Anderson is seen here in interview with artist Jo Fay Duncan about the portrait Spirit Man Walking Country Once More 2019.

Magical Creatures

As an artist I work in many media from drawing and works on paper, to projection and sound scape. In contrast to the high tech of digital imaging recent works are assemblage sculptures simply made of drift wood and feathers all found on the wetlands and beaches of my island home.

Attached are a gathering of these supernatural beings, suspended infront of shadows almost more alive than they are. Snake Bird to me is almost a creational being, there is an elephant posing as a dragonfly and another is the scull of a unicorn wolf. Winged Three Legged Horse promises sublime journeys through the ether. All were in a group exhibition part of Canaipa Mudlines: Environmental Art at Redlands Art Gallery, Nandeebie in the Quandamooka Australia.

Islands of Innocence Installation 2018

Islands of Innocence invitation

Deep sea cinematography by Dave Hannan, film edit by Toni Houston and music by Leon Nette

Full exhibition statement visit

Islands of Innocence

Islands of Innocence was a media installation encompassing projection and audio in the old asylum ward replica at the North Stradbroke Island Museum on Minjerribah August 12, 2018.

The islands of Cassim, Lord Howe, Morovo Lagoon in the Solomons and Minjerribah were land and sea scapes chartered over a period of three months in late 2018 by curator and researcher, Jo Kaspari. The media itself references a rich research ecology undertaken over 24 months evident in this Small Islands Blog.

Islands of Innocence followed the 2017 Two Island Tribute installation which explored a development plan intending to build 3500 units over reclaimed land on Nandeebie’s (Cleveland) foreshore. In so doing the intertwined island ecologies of Cassim and Sandy would be dessemated.  The underwater geologies, ecological diversity and integrity of Cassim and Sandy Islands are such that they were included in Ramsar zoning of 113 314 hectares of Moreton Bay in 1974.

In the face of the ever-present threat of development, the art work in Islands of Innocence some 12 months later explores global-wide threats to islands and related habitats which include mining, over population and indeed development.

Notions of innocence, ancestry and aesthetics explored in this multi layered media installation are qualities which here stand in the face of these threats;  a poetic, an aesthetic disruptor to the bureaucratic monologue about an ‘economic transition strategy’ away from mining on Minjerriba and $444 million grants to save the Great Barrier Reef.

Since 1949 sand mining has been active on Minjerribah. Its impact on people and Country is spoken about in Oodgeroo Noonukul’s poem Time is Running Out. The poem was published in the 1970 publiciation My people: a Kath Walker collection.  This poem along with audio recording of Uncle Bob Anderson that speaks about mining’s end is included in this installation.

In 2011 the then state government made legislation to action Native Title in the region, extend national parks and put an end to mining on Minjerriba. After a change in government and subsequent High Court challenge mining the island is set to end in 2019.

The High Court of Australia ruled in 2017 to overturn legislation to prolong sand mining, as the extension of mining leases on the  island brought into question the rights of Native Title holders across the Country.

Similarly, to allow foreshore development of Toondah Harbour and Cassim Island on reclaimed land of the bay in an internationally recognised Ramsar site, contravenes precisely what Ramsar Convention was set up to achieve: the protection of these locations.

Threats to island habitats are largely born of human centric practices.

Mapping (and mining) the Bay has been a prolific undertaking by many and various individuals and entities in the last 70 years.

Embodied in the maps depicted in this installation, are the imagined underwater geologies from the Last Glaciel period, charting of Moreton Bay by sea farers, political zoning by governments and bird habitats – to name but a few. Included is a map of Native Title over MInjerribah which has created it’s own complex divisions in the community and a Jandal language map of Minjerriba.

The north wall projection references mapping, mining and development in the Bay. Development is depicted in the 3D rendering of the intended Toondah Harbour development.

Mining Downunder Sibelco QLD was a film generated by Visage Productions in 2012 at the time of controversial over turning of mine closure.   ‘Mining has stolen the foot prints of my ancestors’ is a theme often articulated in audio recordings with Uncle Bob over the past 24 months. In this installation he speaks of the significance of song and dance. And of walking Country to Aboriginal people and walking once again on the lands (currently still under mining lease) denied them.

The pristine waters of Morovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands were depicted on the south wall; it’s corals untouched by ocean bleaching and marine inhabitants diverse and prolific as seen in footage by travel companion Dave Hannan of Ocean Ark Alliance, deep water cinematographer and sometimes island resident. Over laying this is original music composed by 16 year-old Leon D.N. – it’s mood one of wonder and journeying.

Lord Howe island is one of a few breeding sites for the sotty tern on the east coast of Australia. Their isolation and sheer volume leave their time immemorial routine unperturbed by human contact, . Children visiting this site in breeding season are pictured here harnessing something of the innocence and reverence essential if we are to preserve earth’s natural habitats.

The media installation explored the idea of innocence and innocence lost be that through; mining, development or human’s prolific presence in the terrain.

The projections themselves are not limited to a single small screen. Instead they overlay the human centric and pinned histories of the island on the white walls of the old asylum building’s interior. North and south wall projections contrasting very different depictions and also decimations of ‘innocence’.


Wetland Wanderer

Wetland Wandere aims to inspire engagement with the environmental, cultural and aesthetic values of wetlands.

Drone footage and audio taken from “lacustrine wetlands or lakes, palustrine wetlands or swamps, and estuarine wetlands or mangroves and marsh”, in Queensland make for an extraordinary aesthetic experience.

Quandamooka Man Joshua Walker audio recording is remarkable

CONCEPT: Islands of Innocence

TITLE: Islands of Innocence – A multi media exhibition
PROPOSED TIME: One night only June 6pm – 9pm, 2018


The projected imagery and audio included in this exhibition elucidate emotive regard for islands such as innocence and reverence; qualities essential if we are to preserve the environmental integrity of islands, the ecologies they support and their surrounding habitats.

Still and moving imagery from the Quandamooka, Lord Howe and Solomon Islands will be projected onto suspended screens in the North Stradbroke Island Museum Foul Ward over static displays of human centric histories contrasted with fluid imagery and audio of innocence and dis/respect.