Connecting with First Peoples art and stories

nbn would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land, seas and skies and pay our respects to the Elders, both past present and future.
5-minute read
Talented First Peoples artists are proudly sharing their work and stories in the latest art installation on nbn™ node cabinets.
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Happy Day by Bernard Gaskin, Balee Group, located in Rye, Victoria.

For residents of Melbourne’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula, Bunurong/BoonWurrung Country nbn™ Fibre to the Node (FTTN) cabinets are not only helping to provide the community with fast broadband access, they’re an outdoor art gallery too.

In collaboration with the Mornington Peninsula Shire, 16 nbn™ nodes were recently ‘wrapped’ in unique designs created by local First Peoples artists.

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Coming Out of Covid by Heather Kennedy, Bunurong Land Council, located in Rosebud, Victoria.
Ranging from traditional stories celebrating family and healing, to the joy of emerging from COVID-19 lockdown, the project has opened the door for talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to share their creativity in public spaces passed by scores of people every day.

Sense of community

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Liwik Biik (Ancestors Country) by Cassie Leatham, Baluk Arts, located in Balnarring, Victoria.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Deputy Mayor Sarah Race says local residents are excited about the project.

“They let us know they want to see more Aboriginal art in their daily lives, so we were thrilled to partner with nbn to deliver art experiences for everyone, every day.”

The Shire worked with six Mornington Peninsula Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups who, in turn, engaged 12 locally based First People artists to participate.

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Mornington Peninsula Shire Deputy Mayor Sarah Race
“We were able to use our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and Arts and Culture Plan to bring all of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups together in a great artistic event to create the most amazing art project,” says Councillor Race.
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Women’s Business by Willum Warrain Women’s Group, Willum Warrain, located in Mt Eliza, Victoria.

One of those participants is Lisa Waup, a proud Gunditjmara and Torres Strait Islander from Baluk Arts, who says, for her, art is a vehicle for storytelling.

“It’s a space for me to be able to tell about my history, my connections to country and family.”  

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Community by Lisa Waup, Baluk Arts, located in Rosebud, Victoria.

Her artwork, titled Community, reflects the coming together of people from different places.

“The motifs on the drawing are circular and, for me, circles represent family,” says Lisa.

“When people look at my artwork on the nbn™ nodes, I’d really like them to kind of question what the work is about and the connections that it has to this country.”

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Waters Dance by Norrell Doak, Bunurong Land Council, located in Dromana, Victoria.

Here comes the sun

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Turtle (Gurlil) by Glenn Shaw, Bunurong Land Council, located in Tyabb, Victoria.

Fellow Indigenous artist Lionel Lauch, a proud Gunditjmara Kirrae Wurrung-Bundjalung man from Living Culture, wanted his contribution to explore themes of healing and positive energy.

“The design I’ve used is Grandfather sun,” says Lionel, referring to the sun’s place in the Aboriginal world.

“You can see the beams coming out of the sun. They’re like his arms coming out and giving us a big hug of warmth and that feeling of positive energy. That’s what he [the sun] does.”

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Grandfather Sun by Lionel Lauch, Living Culture, located in Mornington, Victoria.

A Mornington Peninsula local since the age of six, the nbn™ node showcasing his artwork is located at Number 16 Beach, a special place for many years and one where he now performs vibration-based healing meditation using his yidaki (didgeridoo).

“The reason why I chose this site is because I do a lot of traditional healings here. I teach meditation where people can absorb positive energies,” says Lionel.

He loves that his artwork will put that same spring in the step of passers-by who stop and pause to peruse ‘his’ FTTN node on the street.

“I’d like to say thank you to the Mornington Peninsula Shire and nbn for inviting me to be a part of this amazing project, which has been put together, putting all this positive energy and art out there for people to enjoy.”

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Snake Dreaming by Marice Henare, Balee Group, located in Sorrento, Victoria.

Blank canvas

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Cultural Fingerprint by Glenn Shaw, Bunurong Land Council, located in Somerville, Victoria.

Mark Duke, General Manager of Product Management for FTTN, FTTB, and FTTP nbn Access Products, says it’s fantastic to see nbn’s node cabinets being used as a canvas for Indigenous art.

“Having travelled a bit over the past four years, it’s amazing to see the green node cabinets across the nation, which really makes you proud of the work we have done connecting Australia.

“I’m really glad to see this program come together with the Mornington Peninsula Shire and nbn to display some fantastic examples of Indigenous artwork, which is a great way to beautify the community and get people involved.”

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Saltwater Dreaming by Heather Kennedy, Bunurong Land Council, located in Rye, Victoria.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Arts and Culture Development Co-ordinator, Tracey-Lea Smith says celebrating and enabling expression and creativity in public places can inspire people.
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The Gathering by Kaylen Pappin, Bunjilwarra, located in Red Hill, Victoria.

The art project was originally sparked by a member of the local community who contacted her concerned about graffiti on an nbn™ node cabinet.

“I contacted nbn to see whether there was some way we could improve the aesthetics and promote local artists by putting artwork on the nodes,” says Tracey-Lea.

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Seasons by Linda Lovett, Bunurong Land Council, located in Somerville, Victoria.

On the art trail

From these humble beginnings sprang today’s ‘outdoor gallery’ with plans for the network of art-bearing nodes to be promoted as a walking trail. The idea is for viewers to able to access information about each story and artist via a QR code on their mobile phone.
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Plenty of Fish in the Sea by Maddison Thomson, Bunjilwarra, located in Tootgarook, Victoria.
“Mornington Peninsula Shire recognises and values the impact of arts and culture on our community and it’s been really wonderful to develop a project in partnership with nbn to deliver art in public places for everyone, every day,” says Tracey-Lea.

Lisa Waup couldn’t agree more.

“I think it’s a great initiative to beautify something that I guess people would kind of just walk past normally,” says Lisa.

“It gives people time to stop, look and connect – and to connect with an artist’s work and story, I think, is just priceless.”

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Men’s Business by Willum Warrain Men’s Group, Willum Warrain, located in Hastings, Victoria.
Header image: Bush Potato Vine by Glenn Shaw, Bunurong Land Council, located in Flinders, Victoria.