As the Munday Wall receives the finishing touches, it’s time we turned our attention to the creators of our stunning new artwork that will soon be adorning the side of our building. It should be noted that our shortlist of artists for the commission included some fantastic talent, and all artists interviewed extremely well. However it was the Kidogo team’s attention to detail and thorough research into the brief that allowed them to create the winning artwork.
A lot of people have been asking about Munday Swamp, both what it means and how the artists arrived at the end result. So we’ll start with an in-depth look at what is behind ‘Munday Swamp’.
This painting represents the Munday Swamp wetlands, named after a Nyoongar elder who led the Beeloo clan who hunted and camped in this area. Munday, Yagan and Midgegooroo were warriors who joined forces and fought together against the Wadjula. They were declared outlaws and they had bounties placed on their heads in 1833. Yagan and Midgegooroo were killed, but Munday survived. He appealed and the bounty was later withdrawn.
The wetlands and the woodlands around Munday Swamp had plenty of birds, animals, plants and trees. There were turtles, ducks, yabbies, frogs, wallabies, goanna and possum. There were banksias, wattles, paperbarks, gum trees and jarrah. Chips of quartz used by the Beeloo clan are still scattered around the site.
In the painting, the background colours of rich greens and blues represent the wetlands. The largest circular shape is Munday Swamp. The brown and white patterns within this circle represent reeds.
The red oval shape at the bottom left of the painting which contains one large and several small clusters of blue is where the people camped. Directly above this is a smaller oval which represents the gathering place of the people.
The small blue-grey shapes are chips of quartz. The fine dots or “jewels” scattered throughout the painting symbolise the local people.
Artsource have been of fantastic assistance throughout the project, and full credit goes to Helen Mathie and Ros Brennan for helping us shortlist the artists, co-ordinate proposals and organise the the opening event. If you are looking to commission an artist and don’t know where to start, we can’t recommend Artsource highly enough.
Artsource recently interviewed the Deborah, Wendy and Joanna, and put some fantastic questions forward to the artists about the artwork:
What was your inspiration for your artwork ‘Munday Swamp’?
Our inspiration for the artwork was the history of the area where Cooling Brothers is presently located. Munday Swamp is nearby. The wetlands were a rich source of food and material resources for Munday’s people, the Beeloo Clan. They hunted and camped there, made tools, weapons and ceremonial items, looked after their land and their Dreamings. Munday was a Nyoongar hero, who resisted colonial settlement, along with Midgegooroo and Yagan, in the early days of the Swan River Colony. It wasn’t all that long ago. We are particularly interested in this period of Aboriginal history. We aim to create fresh, contemporary artworks. What better inspiration could we have, than the Aboriginal land where Cooling Brothers now stands?
Could you please explain how you went about developing the work, from concept to creation? Please include an explanation of the materials and techniques used.
Because our public artworks are mainly inspired by Aboriginal history, perspectives and land ownership, we often think in terms of abstract landscape designs, or we feature local animals, insects or plants.
It seemed logical to create the artwork, Munday Swamp, as an abstract landscape to connect the artwork to the site of the Cooling Brothers building, because this is the authentic thing to do. It recognises the Aboriginal history of the surrounding area. We want the artwork and its story to educate the viewer about Munday, the Beeloo Clan and their land. The artwork will be quite a prominent feature on the building, and hopefully this will prompt people to ask questions about it and learn the story behind the painting.
We knew from the brief, what area of the glass windows the artwork would cover. We all produced drawings, sketches, ideas and research then we had a team meeting to decide on the theme and the design of the artwork. We then presented our design concept, our story and our ideas to Cooling Brothers, who awarded us the commission to create the artwork.
We drafted the initial design concept, chose to work with acrylics and canvas, then all three of us worked on the painting, which when finished would be reproduced on the glass windows. We chose rich greens and blues to represent the background colours of the wetlands and the woodlands, with the largest circular shape representing Munday Swamp. The brown and white patterns within this circle represent reeds. We chose designs in reds and blues to represent camping spots, gathering places and people. We chose small blue-grey shapes to represent chips of quartz, which can still be found at Munday Swamp today.
Many of the design elements, and the fine details evolved spontaneously, though. We were quite flexible once we started applying paint to canvas and as is often the case, our designs and colours took on a life of their own!
Please provide a brief explanation of your team’s art practice and philosophy?
As an artist group, we like to strongly link our public art practice to Aboriginal history and land use and the significance of a particular area to the local Aboriginal owners. All three of us bring different expertise to the group. As well as being an artist, Deborah Bonar has excellent graphic design and computer skills. She also has good planning and organising skills and good research skills. Her Aboriginal heritage is Gija and Yamatji.
Wendy Hayden is a professional artist and the team motivator. She has excellent verbal skills and the confidence to present our team’s ideas and designs, when we are presenting public art submissions. She also has excellent planning and organising skills. Wendy is a Nyoongar woman and she makes sure we have the correct cultural facts and interpretations in relation to Nyoongar history, beliefs and practices.
Joanna Robertson is an internationally exhibited artist who has taught and mentored some of Western Australia’s most promising emerging artists over the past twenty years. Joanna is the Director of the Kidogo Art Institute in Fremantle and she has a wealth of management and business experience. Her background is Irish Australian.
We are very much equal partners in our artist team. We work collaboratively, we rely on each others’ expertise and we support each other. We work closely together on each stage of the project, from concept design, conducting research, in consulting with engineers, fabricators and suppliers when we are planning design concepts and in calculating a realistic budget for public art work submissions. We constantly learn from each other. Our mix of Aboriginal/non Aboriginal, Irish, Australian, Nyoongar, Gija and Yamatji brings a diversity of views and perspectives to our artwork. We respect and value that diversity within our team.
I think we are successful as an artist team because we realise that to produce public artworks, in addition to professional artistic skills, you need to be reliable, have the ability to meet deadlines, have good marketing skills and the ability to prepare and present written and verbal submissions to a very high professional standard.
The interpretive stories that accompany our public artworks are very important to us. The story of Munday Swamp links the artwork in a very authentic way to the Cooling Brothers building, for which it was designed.
You can see more of Joanna, Wendy & Deborah’s work down at Kidogo Arthouse in Fremantle. Located right on Bathers Beach overlooking the water, we think it has got to be one of the best studio locations in Perth.
For more information on the artists please visit the Kidogo website