Gubbi Gubbi Gun'doo Yang'ga'man Opening - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Gubbi Gubbi Gun'doo Yang'ga'man Opening

10 Jul 2015

10 July 2015

Well what a setting to be in to celebrate NAIDOC week! We are very privileged.

It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

And also to welcome everyone here, as a way to reflect a little on USC’s engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. I’d like to introduce you to this beautiful and significant new tie I’m wearing – it’s currently the only one of its type in the world but alas it will soon be joined by quite a few more. As is appropriate for an Indigenous creation like this, it has a story.

As part of our acknowledgement of Close the Gap this year, one of our Indigenous staff Chris McGregor offered to complete a painting that could be a focal point for activities in his cost centre, the Human Resources division. When I heard about this I thought it would be nice if this became something for the University as a whole. So with only a little gentle persuasion the painting is now displayed in the Chancellery along with an explanation of the symbolism involved – it’s a really moving story.

So what we’ve done, with Chris’ agreement, is to translate his art work into a tie and a scarf, suitably badged with Chris’ name, a Closing the Gap label, and a story card – we’ll use these as high level corporate gifts so that when dignitaries visit USC or we visit them they’ll receive a gift that is unique but more importantly, makes a strong statement about where USC stands on reconciliation and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

So that’s why we’re so delighted to have this wonderful exhibition here at the USC Art Gallery.

About Gubbi Gubbi Gun’doo Yang’ga’man

Gubbi Gubbi Gun'doo Yang'ga'man is a cultural revival project supported by the Sunshine Coast Heritage Levy.

It was initiated in 2011 by Indigenous artist, cultural practitioner and USC Snr Fellow Lyndon Davis to revitalise local Indigenous knowledge and build awareness for Gubbi Gubbi culture and build pride for the Gubbi Gubbi community. Beginning in 2012 John Waldron of Blue Sky View was contracted by Sunshine Coast Council to coordinate the project and curate an exhibition to showcase the canoe and the processes involved in construction. The project was completed in 2013 and is now under the custodianship of Sunshine Coast Council Heritage Division

As outlined by Council, the project consisted of the documented research (still photographs and a film) construction and celebration, through exhibition and performance, of two traditional-style Gubbi Gubbi bark canoes.

One canoe constructed for community celebration and ceremonial use, was to feature first as part of the internationally recognised art and ecology event, Floating Land in 2013 and is now part of the nationally touring East Coast Encounters exhibition currently showing at Caloundra Regional Gallery.

The other (larger) canoe in this exhibition was presented for exhibition and educational purposes, to feature in an exhibition at the then Sunshine Coast Council’s Noosa Regional Gallery in 2013 and to tour nationally. USC Gallery will be the final exhibition in the tour.

The project team included Gubbi Gubbi cultural practitioner, artist and dancer, Lyndon Davis (lead practitioner), three members of the Gubbi Gubbi Dance Troupe (Brent Miller, Nathan Morgan and Kerry Jones), James Muller of Earth Base Productions (documentation) and also Dr Ray Kerkhove (historian / researcher / writer), working in collaboration with Council’s Cultural Heritage and Collections Unit. It was managed and curated by John Waldron, Blue Skyview.

Gubbi Gubbi territory is a coastal, well-watered region on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Bark canoes were once used and had an iconic cultural significance in Gubbi Gubbi traditional lore, featuring in several stories and historic events (eg the Cooloola and Three Brothers legends; the Murdering Creek massacre; the Eliza Fraser rescue). Many Gubbi Gubbi descendants also have South Sea Islander (SSI) including Ni Vanuatu heritage. For the Sunshine Coast Australian South Sea Islander (ASSI) community last century, the building and racing of outrigger canoes was a focal activity that kept alive their Islander heritage.

Boreen Point and the associated Noosa Lakes system were pivotal to various Gubbi Gubbi stories, both legendary and historic tales and contexts significant to Sunshine Coast community history.

For the Aboriginal arts workers involved, the Gubbi Gubbi Gun’doo Yang’ga’man canoe project in 2013 was a development on earlier forays but with the focus of re-establishing and passing on traditional canoe-construction methods.

And on that note I would like to open Gubbi Gubbi Gun’doo Yang’ga’man – thank you.

Brent Miller in canoe