The Southern Highland News would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land, the Gundungurra people of the Gundungurra Nation. We also pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.
Ngununggula's Entry Pavilion tells the story of Gundungurra land and highlights its beauty, diversity and legacy in the Southern Highlands.
The first regional gallery opens its doors to the public on October 12, where attendees can learn more about Gundungurra land and culture.
Eleven First Nations people in the Highlands (below) collaborated with Gundungurra elder Aunty Velma Mulcahy 'Val' OAM and Quandamooka artist Megan Cope to bring the seven metre window projection to life.
Aunty Trish Levett, Melissa Wiya, Dashanti Carr, Rose Shaw, Samara Shaw, Pam Luke, Issabella Luke-Bowen, Louise Forster, Shania Forster, Layla-Rose Forster and Summah Forster all took part in the project.
The Entry Pavillion is a space where Indigenous artists can have their works commissioned.
"It is great to have it done down here, there are lots of artists down here who not only have artworks, but artifacts to show," Val said.
The installation maps Gundungurra land and tells the land's dreamtime story with the ancestral spirits Gurangatch and Mirrangan.
Val explained that Ngununggula's founder Ben Quilty saw her late husband Allen Mulcahy's artworks and reached out to her for the project.
"I have always been involved with art," she continued.
"We have got wonderful artists down here who do wonderful things, and I hope they all get involved.
"It shows the importance of community and reconciliation, and that Aboriginal people do have something to say.
"We wanted to put art up there, what it means and the stories."
Ms Cope explained that Wingecarribee Shire Council's Aboriginal Development Officer Melissa Wiya called out for expressions of interest from any First Nations people to be involved in the project.
The multimedia artist said she held workshops with the collaborators in Ben Quilty's studio over a weekend to display different motifs that "cultivate strong elements of country".
"We developed imagery and yarns on how beautiful it is, and we also spoke about uncomfortable things, like what it is like to be an Aboriginal person in Bowral," she said.
"It shows the colours of the country inland, as well as the waterways because there is a lot of freshwater there."
Ms Cope then took the images home and vectorised them with her designer to transform them into a digital graphic.
The vinyl application was then displayed across three windows which "illuminates the graphic" in the gallery's foyer.
The artist explained that it was a collaborative process.
"We did drafts and sent them to the community for their approval and everyone was really wrapped with what we produced," she said.
"At the end of the day, I don't live there.
"For me, it was important for the people of the country to project a sense of ownership and empowerment, and tell others about the gallery and say 'I did that' and 'this is ours.'"
"I can't wait to see what happens after us, it is an interesting way of working and plays with the light and architecture."
The installation will be on display for one year.
Highlanders can learn more about the gallery's upcoming exhibitions here.
Melissa Wiya was contacted for a comment.
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