Canoe People sculpture

Canoe People sculpture, Amanda feher, public art, Townsville

Public Art: Canoe People sculpture

Sculptor: © Amanda Feher

Sculptor's Website:

Artist: © Billy Doolan

Description: The galvanized steel Canoe People sculpture was inspired by a drawing of "Canoe People" by Aboriginal artist Billy Doolan. The Amanda and Billy then collaborated on the sculpture, which depicts two Wulgurukaba "canoe" People fishing in their traditional canoe. The figure at the back is paddling, while the figure at the bow stands with spear at the ready. There are two very important elements to the "Canoe People" artwork. Firstly, the sculpture is located at a traditional meeting point for the Wulgurukaba peoples and it is right near a Canoe Tree ,commonly known as a Terpentine. Secondly, both artists worked hard on creating an authentic design as possible for the traditional fishing spear .

Canoe People sculpture, Amanda Feher, public artArtist's Statement: 'One of the things that was important for both Billy and I with this sculpture was that it appeared natural and that it would actually look like it was “on the water”.'

Funded By: The Canoe People sculpture was funded by the Jezzine Barracks Community Trust as part of the Jezzine Barracks Redevelopment Project.

Date Unveiled: 2013

Location: The Canoe People sculpture is located in the ethno-botanical area in the north-western corner of the precinct of the Jezzine Barracks, looking out over Rose Bay, Townsville, Queensland, Australia.

Wulgurukaba Traditional Owners : Wulgurukaba Traditional Owners are also known as Canoe People. Their canoes were made from the bark of the corkwood or Turpentine trees. They are descendants of the ‘dreamtime’ (told through Gabul the Rainbow Serpent creation story) and the first custodians of  Magnetic Island and areas west to the Reid River; south to the Haughton River and north as far as Rollingstone. For thousands of years they have travelled within these boundaries according to the seasons.

They also shaped and sharpened stone heads for their spears and axes by grinding them against sandstone, granite or basalt. 

Jezzine Barracks Redevelopment Project :

The Jezzine Barracks / Kissing Point / Garabarra precinct is a former military site and home of Traditional Owners, the Wulgurukaba people and the Bindal people.

In July 2009 the Commonwealth Government handed over the 15 hectares of the former Jezzine Barracks to the Townsville City Council to ensure that the historic site would not be sold to commercial interests, but would be preserved and appropriately developed in the public interest. 

The Jezzine Barracks Redevelopment Project commemorates both the military and Aboriginal heritage of the Jezzine Barracks, Kissing Point and Garabarra. One of the highlights of the project is the 33 specially commissioned public artworks at the Kissing Point headland. The public artworks were created by 13 Aboriginal and 11 non-Aboriginal artists from Townsville, North Queensland and Queensland, all inspired by either Aboriginal stories or military history .

Twenty of the installations are inspired by traditional Aboriginal elders stories. The stories were originally depicted in drawings produced by the Aboriginal artists, then in collaboration with installation artists were developed into public sculptures.

Eight of the works are inspired by the the military history of the site and the Kennedy Regiment.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Amanda Feher for so kindly providing the images of your inspiring and touching work.

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