The MBRS Public Art Project was a joint initiative of station manager Kathy Townsend and Jo Fay Duncan (formerly Kaspari), curator. Both women are island residents and passionate about the role arts and culture can play in increasing understanding of marine environments and it’s preservation. This project followed residency with Jo Fay Duncan.
Thank-you artists’ Belinda Close, Jennie Truman and Bernadette Mollison, Kevin Townsend Operations Manager, also project committee members Nick Mitzevich, Judy Watson and Ngugi elder Uncle Bob Anderson.
This project has received financial assistance through Arts Queensland from art+place Queensland Government’s Public Art Fund.
Baby Wobbygong by Belinda Close digital photograph on glass photo by Kate Howe
My family’s favourite pastime is to snorkel at Pulan Pulan (Amity Point) at the end of Toompany Street, for mangrove jacks and other fish. When my husband and children dive there, my children swim amongst the baby wobbygongs, keeping their distance. It took me a long time to paint this wobbygong, as I had to build up the surface until it felt like the skin of the shark — rough like sandpaper. This painting is meant to be rubbed very gently across the woobygong’s back, as this is how it feels in real life. I want people to see what a beautiful creature he is, how special he is, as the old wobbygong is so often forgotten. I want people to see that beauty, so I put him up there in bright red. The original painting entitled Baby Wobbygong (1020 x 720 mm) was painted in 2007 with synthetic polymer paint on canvas, and is now part of the Redland Art Gallery Acquisition Funds.
Sprit Spine by Belinda Close digital photograph on glass photo by Kate Howe
The Spirit Spine is taken from an original painting of a Hammer Head (5850 x 2050 mm) painted in 2007 with polymer paint on three plywood cut to the shape of the animal. Now held in a private collection. Pop’s story of the Hammerhead dreaming My name is Belinda Close. I come from a long of traditional Minjerribah women, my apical ancestor was Ngerie. I grew up at One-Mile, and was raised by my pop Collie and mums Joanne and Tilly, in an extended family way. My cultural values were inherited from them. My pop was a traditional fisherman. One of his many stories was about Old Man Hammerhead that he passed down through our family. Back in the dreamtime lived this old ancient Hammerhead that roamed the foreshores of Minjerribah. This old man was seen in these waters as far back as our forefathers and he was regarded as one of our spiritual ancestors. Back then one of the traditional ways of hunting was our men hunting mullet fish with the dolphins in the winter months. If laws of the waters were broken he became very angry and prevented the dolphins from bringing in the catch. Instead he would drive the mullet out to sea. When the law was dealt with and things returned to normal he became happy again and would swim close when the women and children were wading, splashing his tail affectionately and pushing the feeding stingray in for the women to pick up.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal and Ellie Durbidge digital photograph on glass
During the MBRS Public Art Project process Elder Uncle Bob Anderson shared his own stories and special relationship with the inter-tidal zone. Our discussions led to his recollection of this image taken in the Grey Mangrove forest near Moongalba in 1980. The image focuses on two women, Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) — Elder, Poet, Activist and Educator and Ellie Durbidge, third generation resident, founding member of the Stradbroke Island Management Organisation (SIMO) and, like Oodgeroo, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Oodgeroo, now deceased, revealed her passion for her country through her poems such as the 1960 Understand Old One. Her home by the mangroves, Moongalba, was open to all those who came to learn. Ellie Durbidge continues to pursue her passion for observing and protecting North Stradbroke Island. My thanks are extended to Ellie Durbidge and the descendants of Oodgeroo Noonuccal for giving me permission to exhibit this image. The photo was published in the North Stradbroke Island “jellyfish” book written by Mrs Ellie Durbidge and Jeanette Covacevish. Visitors to the North Stradbroke Island Museum will be able to view the original photo, learn about the endeavours of SIMO, and view selections of the Oodgeroo collection currently being archived by members of her family.
Mudflats by Bernadette Mollison digital photograph on glass photo by Kate Howe
Taken at low tide, from the One Mile jetty these photographs draw our attention to the unique space of the inter-tidal zone. In the glare of the midday sun the mud flats reveal their transient yet indelible features, momentarily, for those whoa re looking – the tracings of the flat head, mud crab or worm; abandons flotsom and jetsam, and thriving mangrove pods are each preciously sought. Generations have walked these flats together, custodians sharing their knowledge, skills and observations; families and friends connecting with the powerful spirit of this place.
Artist Belinda Close infront of Wobbygong (photo by Kate Howe) and Judy Watson, Belinda Close, Nick Mitzevich and Jo Fay Duncan project curators and artist. Projection still image from 2008 Artist residency at North Stradbroke Island. (For more information go to Island Blog and ‘Residencies’ category.