Bathurst Regional Council received $767,884 grant funding under the NSW Government’s award-winning Streets As Shared Spaces (SASS) program to support local councils to test and pilot new and innovative ideas for streets as safe, shared public spaces. The program aims to improve public spaces in urban areas to create places for social interaction, improve health and wellbeing, and offer communities a sense of identity and character.
A key element of the SASS program is the use of public art to strengthen the economic role of the CBD by making it a more attractive place to the community and visitors.
The SASS public art commissions are in line with the Bathurst Public Art Policy which aims to provide for the development and delivery of a strategically planned and innovative public art program for the Bathurst Region based on contemporary creative thinking and best practice implementation models.
Birrunga Wiradyuri Mural, Post Office Building
Birrunga Wiradyuri with Kane Brunjes, Stevie O’Chin, and the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders Blue Banded Bee Creation Story 2022, 6 m x 15 m, Post Office Building, 230 Howick St, Bathurst.
Birrunga Wiradyuri’s mural tells the creation story of the blue banded bee as told to him by his Elders:
The bees come from gibirrgan (the southern cross). They fall down to earth from these stars and when they first begin falling from the sky, they are bright white balls of light. As they fall and get closer to earth, they become glowing golden balls and when those golden balls land on earth they become our bees.
The important role the blue-banded bee plays in the ecosystem holds special significance for the Wiuradyuri. Other elements of the mural design, such as the white five-lined circular motif representing a Songline, explore the five aspects of the Wiradyuri central lore of Yindyamarra: to do slowly - to be polite - to be gentle - to honour - to respect.
Blue banded bees (Amegilla) are endemic to Australia, with eleven varieties found in all states and territories except Tasmania. These beautiful bees are recognised for the bold blue stripes on their abdomens, five on the males and four on the females.
Blue banded bees are important pollinators. Their long tongues allow them to access deep pollen reservoirs. They are also buzz pollinators which means that they can grasp flowers and vibrate them to shake pollen loose. The flowers of many of our native plants, and some crop plants such as tomatoes, are specially adapted to be pollinated by buzz-pollinators.
Blue banded bees are known as stingless bees. In many ways the benign nature of the blue banded bees embodies the strengths of the Wiradyuri lore of Yindyamarra. The bees in this mural are stylised and have specific symbolism in their design.
Artwork design was undertaken in consultation and collaboration with the Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders, the Traditional Custodians of the Bathurst region. The mural was painted by Birrunga Wiradyuri with Kane Brunjes and Stevie O’Chin, young First Nations artists who Birrunga mentors through the Birrunga Gallery’s three-year Cultural Creative Residential program.
The SASS public art commissions have been managed by ESEM Projects in line with the Bathurst Public Art Policy which aims to provide for the development and delivery of a strategically planned and innovative public art program for the Bathurst Region based on contemporary creative thinking and best practice implementation models.
Birrunga Wiradyuri is a Wiradyuri man. He is the founder and principal artist of the multi award winning Birrunga Gallery and Dining in Brisbane’s CBD and is dedicated to fulfilling his cultural responsibilities, following, and practicing the central Wiradyuri law of Yindyamarra. Birrunga is a practicing visual artist whose narrative works explore the spirituality of the Wiradyuri people, in historical and contemporary contexts.
Birrunga has undertaken numerous public art commissions, and has exhibited widely, including a solo exhibition at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery in 2020. Birrunga participated in the Australia Council’s Custodianship Program in 2020. Through his work at the Birrunga Gallery he mentors young First Nations artists through the Birrunga Gallery’s three-year Cultural Creative Residential program.
Kane Brunjes is a Gunggari, Kabi Kabi man practicing in both public and gallery realms. Through his art practice Brunjes aims to solidify and represent a visual portrayal of how he views and reacts to the environment surrounding him with consideration to history and story. Now working exclusively with Birrunga Gallery he continues to develop these core foundations with a guided lens of expertise. Brunjes is the inaugural participant in Birrunga Gallery’s 3-year Cultural Creative Residential program.
Stevie O’Chin is an Aboriginal artist of the Kabi Kabi, Waka Waka & Koa tribe on her father’s side, and Yuin Nation on her mother’s side. Her paintings are inspired by her surroundings and the stories told by her parents and family elders. Stevie hails from a large family; many whom are artists from both her parents' side. She was influenced from a young age and has learnt to paint from watching her family members. She is now carving her own path and has grown into an accomplished artist in her own right. O'Chin is the second participant in Birrunga Gallery’s 3-year Cultural Creative Residential program.
Image Credit: Blue Banded Bee Creation Story (aerial view). Photo: Birrunga Wiradyuri