Maroochy Gunyah – Images of the Ngudur/ Diura (Gunyah) of South East Queensland and traditional domestic architecture across Australia.

The severe disruption of colonisation and subsequent incarceration of most Aboriginal people in government reserves curtailed Indigenous cultural practices in many parts of Australia. This saw immense loss of Indigenous technologies, arts and crafts, especially between c.1890 and 1950. Fortunately, however, most Aboriginal groups retained oral traditions concerning their culture, and some elements of crafts continued to be practiced.

A group of Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi cultural practitioners, lead by Lyndon Davis and Brent Miller, have managed to revive traditional practices such as bark canoe and tow-row (fish nets) making and others. These activities have been informed through conversations with their families and elders; connection with similar practices in other parts of Australia; researching museum collections and historic documents; and by painstakingly trialing and re-trialing the reconstruction of specific practices and methods.

A particular interest of this group has been to develop contemporary expressions of their culture through creative collaboration and by utilizing modern technologies. ‘Maroochy Gunyah’ is the latest project of this type, combining the traditional knowledge of Lyndon Davis and Brent Miller; talents of fibre artist Kris Martin, photographer/projection artist James Muller, researcher Ray Kerkhove and curator John Waldron. In 2017 as part of the Horizon Festival, ’Maroochy Gunyah’ at Chambers Island featured a Gunyah modelled after the ‘split beehive’ design, but used as a contemporary art installation. The photographic projections emulate the Gubbi Gubbi tradition of decorating hut interiors.

Project Credits:

Maroochy Gunyah Performance concept and artwork: Kris Martin

Construction and Indigenous mentoring: Lyndon Davis, Brent Miller

Research and writing: Dr Ray Kerkhove

Curation and design: John Waldron, Blue Sky View

Printing: Steve Hall, Sunprint

Acknowledgements

This project has been made possible through the support and commitment of Kabi Kabi and Turrbal families.

Thanks to the Old Ambulance Station, Nambour for auspicing the grant and the many Public and Private Collections for the use of photographic material.

Maroochy Gunyah received financial support from the Sunshine Coast Council.