Darwin is now home to a major new public artwork, a striking sculpture called mirragma gunugurr-wa, which was revealed today at Bicentennial Park.
City of Darwin Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said the artwork, featuring a four-metre-high mermaid’s tail, was created by Larrakia artists and took its name from the Larrakia word for bamboo raft.
“This wonderful piece of art will become a cultural landmark in Darwin and is another way people can interact with Larrakia culture on Larrakia land,” Mr Vatskalis said.
“We’re proud to have partnered with Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation.”
Larrakia artists Trent Lee and Roque Lee worked with First Nations public art consultants GARUWA Creative, using recycled aluminium to create the work and tell the story of how bamboo rafts were used for transport by Larrakia people.
“The old people told me when I was younger that they used rafts to go to ceremonies, fishing and to connect with family on the opposite side of Darwin Harbour,” said Larrakia Elder and artist Roque Lee.
Collaborator Trent Lee said: “I hope it will give a sense of pride for us mob and show that we are still here after all this time – living, breathing; still hunting on our country and doing what we do.”
“The raft and the mermaid tail both represent significant cultural and historical stories; the designs and Larrakia language on the base offer further meaning and context,” said GARUWA Creative co-director Genevieve Grieves.
A QR code on the artwork takes visitors to a City of Darwin web page that showcases two videos – one on Larrakia language and the other on the artwork. These videos were supported by Regional Arts Funds Cultural Tourism Accelerator and Tourism NT.
City of Darwin established an MOU with Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation who selected the two Larrakia Artists Roque Lee and Trent Lee. City of Darwin then invited expressions of interest from public art consultants nationally and GARUWA Creative was successful in its bid to lead this work.