Powerful stories of resilience, heritage and unity will echo from The Shed at Northshore Brisbane this National Reconciliation Week.

A ground-breaking exhibition by the globally renowned Birrunga Gallery will call on the creative talents of six Indigenous Australian artists to reflect the 2024 National Reconciliation Week theme of Now More Than Ever.

Guided by culture and connection to Country, the artists have produced 18 pieces that share stories and thoughtfully apply the potent theme in deft and clever ways.

Visitors are invited to experience the works from Saturday 25 May with a handful of tickets to the informative and uplifting Opening Night event still available.

The Gallery will also host Cultural Guided Art Exhibition Tours and an Importance of Place Workshop during Reconciliation Week.

While the exhibition’s focus is fittingly on the 18 new artworks, its location is a respectful nod to Three Circles, the large-scale mural that meanders across The Shed’s floor.

Three Circles was the first Indigenous artwork commissioned for Northshore Brisbane and was produced by Birrunga Gallery founder and artist, Birrunga Wiradyuri.

Drawing inspiration from the personal totem of a feather, Mr Wiradyuri has created a new acrylic artwork for the exhibition, as has Kabi Kabi – Gungerri artist Kane Brunjes who also worked on the Three Circles mural.

“There’s an energy or reciprocity around place which is why we’re really excited to be coming back to Northshore Brisbane,” Mr Wiradyuri said.

“I don’t consider this a full-circle moment for us – that would suggest it’s over – it’s more of a spiral and I like to work with spirals, the way they encourage movement.

“Every time we come here, we re-energise ourselves and we re-energise the space, it just grows and grows.”

Injecting fresh energy into The Shed are fellow artists Naomi Green of Worimi; Jessica Skeen, a Kuku Thaypan, Widi and Birriah descendent; Tiesha Martin King from Bundjalung Country; and Jagera woman Jemma Stewart, the latter three apprentices in Birrunga Gallery’s Creative Cultural Development Program (CCDP).

The cohort of artists worked collaboratively to interrogate the theme of Now More Than Ever, challenging each other creatively to produce intensely personal and broadly resonant artistic representations.

“It’s interesting because although each piece presents an individual perspective, there is a common thread that runs through it all.

“It seems counter-intuitive but we don’t paint for the audience – they are important and we serve them but we go a whole lot deeper.

“We’re cultural practitioners who hold lore, storytelling and truth-telling and we bring that responsibility to the fore in every aspect of what we do and how we produce our work.

“The critical aspect of what we create centres on story, cultural congruence, responsibility, timing, process, ceremony – all those things that we live day to day.”

That commitment to storytelling is evident in Birrunga Gallery’s continued growth and expansion across Queensland and globally.

Transitioning in 2024 to a wholly online presence, the Gallery tours exhibitions throughout Australia and services an international clientele.

Yet a deep connection to place will see Birrunga Gallery extend its relationship with Northshore Brisbane long after the National Reconciliation Week Art Exhibition is dismantled and packed away.

“This is more than just a physical space to us,” he explained.

“Culturally, where freshwater and saltwater meet is always a place of ceremony. Water is our life-giver.

“This site, for me, is about honouring that pre-existing natural area of brackish water and any of the ceremonies that have taken place there.

“Ceremony is critical. The energy of ceremony, story and culture in honouring and inhabiting the space means every event that happens there has an element of ceremony to it.”

To honour this heritage and harness this energy, Birrunga Gallery are looking to be located within Northshore Brisbane in the near future.

“This is about collaboration and connection; a collective environment where we can come together, build ideas and work together,” Mr Wiradyuri said.

He also paid tribute to the collaboration and care extended by Northshore Brisbane and Economic Development Queensland (EDQ), nominating it as a contributing factor to the Gallery’s consideration to plant roots in the precinct.

“We’ve got a wonderful relationship with EDQ, we feel very understood and respected and safe here,” Mr Wiradyuri added.

“It’s really exciting how EDQ is working with this precinct and how their relationships centre on reciprocity, being respectful, being gentle and being supportive of each other.

“Everyone looks after each other; we’re all walking along, growing and learning together.”

Birrunga Gallery’s National Reconciliation Week Art Exhibition opens at The Shed, Dock C, Northshore Brisbane on Saturday 25 May.

For more information and to purchase tickets to Opening Night, Guided Tours or Workshops, visit northshorebrisbane.com.au/event/celebrating-reconciliation-week/

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