A couple of months ago I received an email from the Sunshine Coast Council with the wonderful news that I was shortlisted to create a mural design for the Beerwah Library. And for those that know me would understand how thrilled I was. Yes, I did a happy dance! I have been working really hard the past few years to get my work up in public spaces. So this was a very exciting opportunity that landed in my inbox. There was an invite to attend a meeting at the Beerwah Library with library management and the Public Art Curator of the Sunshine Coast Council. Before I went I made sure to do my homework and do some research about Beerwah, the Glass House Mountains and the flora and fauna. I also looked at what species have significant meaning to the indigenous peoples.
I found the Black Glossy Cockatoo to be the perfect subject because of what the meaning of the bird represents and how it relates to place and the community. The power of spirit coming into your life is what the black cockatoo represents. It is meant to bring dreams and wonder into your life. And at this stage in my life and for this artwork it relates perfectly. The more I discovered about the cockatoo the more I felt connected to it and it made complete sense to me to paint it for this location. The Black Glossy Cockatoo has significant meaning to the indigenous community and shows us important lessons and challenges. Its energy is can bring empowerment, happiness and contentment. Their screech is an announcement the rain is coming, representing nurture, nourishment, and replenishment. I wanted to showcase the beauty of this bird and all its strength and meaning, which I hope will empower the local community and its visitors. I have surrounded the cockatoo by flora found directly around the Library. The background and the reflection in the feathers are blue, it is the colour of the sky which is the meaning of “Beerwah”, with birra meaning sky and wandum meaning climbing up.
An hour before the meeting I arrived at the library to get a feel for the location and researched what the important facts and history are of the place. I found many books about the local history of the Kabi Kabi people and the place and meaning behind the Glass House Mountains. In the library, there so happen to be a group of lovely ladies enjoying their weekly knitting group. I took the opportunity to ask them what they would like to see on the wall. I explained them about my idea and how I linked the meaning of the glossy black cockatoo to place, community and their sense of belonging. I could tell that they understood where I was going my idea and looked they really enthusiastic about it. I felt the cockatoo was the perfect subject for my design. I find it very important to talk to people that utilise a space and learn what the how and why is they feel connected to a place.
While I was there I took the chance to take a few photos of the wall and some snaps of vegetation surrounding the wall. These will be some references that I will start my design from. I was still the only one there still and was anxiously waiting which other artists were shortlisted. Then, Fellow artists Steven Bordonaro, David Houghton and Wayne Smith turned up. I was a bit in disbelief, to be honest, as I know all of them and admire all of their work. I felt so honoured to be brushing shoulders with these guys. We received the brief and had an opportunity to ask all questions needed in order for us to put a proposal and design together. We were asked to put in two designs each and all 8 designs would be displayed at the library and the public was asked to vote for their favourite design.
At home, I brainstormed a few ideas on how I could best portray the black cockatoo and make it appealing to the public and capture the meaning of the work. It had to make sure that the public and regular users of the space would feel connected to the artwork. At the same time, it would make sure the cover most of the wall to deter tagging and graffiti. I played with contrasting colours, textures, layers, stylised forms, line and shape to create the two designs below. I made the blue one first and am so thrilled how it came out. Because I was so taken with the meaning of the cockatoo I decided to use the bird again in a different form. So the public gets a good idea how it would look like in real life I superimposed the designs on the photos I had taken before. The proposal was emailed along with the artist statement. Now all I had to do was drop the works ready to be hung in the library so the public could vote on their favourite design. This was just before Christmas and the designs would not be displayed at the library until the 2nd of January. AAAAARGH, I want to know what the other artists have made! So the wait had begun……….
That 2nd of January couldn’t come quick enough. I was so curious about what the other artists had created. You just don’t know how the others had interpreted the brief. When the 2nd finally arrived I drove up to the library to have a look at the other artworks. On the 5th of February, we will find out who will be the lucky artist that will be painting one of their two designs on the wall of the Beerwah library.
Steven Bordonaro, David Houghton, Wayne Smith and my designs.