This May, Under the Surface, a multi-dimensional public art experience is launching across East Gippsland, encouraging visitors to ponder and deepen their connections to the natural landscape.
The site-specific art trail, which follows the East Gippsland Rail Trail from Bairnsdale to Orbost, begins with and builds on stories from the Gunaikurnai people, the Traditional Owners of much of Gippsland. Through a cultural awareness program, the Gunaikurnai artists collective and visiting artists shared traditional stories and land management practices, as well as artistic practices and skills. The result? Five unique, large scale works that draw attention to and honour the environment and its ecology.
Local Indigenous artist Alice Pepper, in collaboration with non-Indigenous artist David “Meggs” Hooke, who is well-known for his large scale murals interweaving nature and industry, have artwork showing at Nowa Nowa underpass/tunnel in Nowa Nowa. Further west, Yuin artist and Gippsland local Patricia Pittman is presenting work Nicholson River Bridge in Nicholson.
Visiting artists also include graffiti/street artist Ling and Minna Leunig, an accomplished painter and muralist whose work focuses on native Australian plants and animals (and yes, she is also daughter of acclaimed cartoonist Michael Leunig). Ling’s artwork can be found at Orbost Butter Factory in Orbost; Leunig’s at Partelli’s Crossing, Tostaree.
A fruitful cross-cultural exchange between the Gunaikurnai community and the visiting artists, Under the Surface posits a timely reflection of our connection to land within an era of climate change. The event designers and producers, The Social Crew, say they hope “the works will draw attention to the natural environment, assist in visual storytelling and connect and grow human relationships with the land through art.”
Tracing across farmland and forest, Under the Surface weaves along the former Orbost railway line and joins existing public artworks at the beginning of the rail trail by Alfie Hudson, another in Nicholson by local artist Tracey Solomon, and the water tank in Bruthen by Alan Solomon.
The project has been created with support from Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, the Victorian State Government, East Gippsland Shire Council, and the East Gippsland Rail Trail Committee, and is now live and ready for to be experienced.
WHAT: Under the Surface art trail
WHERE: Bairnsdale to Orbost, East Gippsland
WHEN: Opens May
MORE INFO: Under the Surface
We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.