The stories behind the art: Lorna Shuan


Karlie Brady


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Artist Lorna Shuan holding her artwork; The Mountain (Goodbidi), acrylic on linen canvas, 51x51cm, 2019. Background artwork from Karen Shuan. Image: Karlie Brady.

In a small workshop in the Mossman Gorge Community, a group of Indigenous artists are ensuring their culture and stories will live on through the use of traditional art.

Over the next couple of weeks, Newsport will follow the artists from Bamanga Bubu Ngadimunku (BBN) Aboriginal Corporation's, Yalanji Arts, and share some of the stories behind their work.

These local artists meet multiple times a week to share, learn, and create new pieces of art, all of which carry a message.

Artist Lorna Shuan, a traditional owner at the Mossman Gorge Community, said art is in her blood and is something she has done all her life.

“Art is strong in my family, everyone did it and has passed it down through my family and now I pass it on to my grandchildren and my nieces and nephews,” she said.

Ms Shuan added that her art tells the stories of her country and people and is an important way for her to pass the message onto the next generation.

“This is how we were brought up, respecting each other and respecting people and stories before us.”

The piece pictured above is called The Mountain (Goodbidi) and shows the story of the rock formation above Mossman Gorge.

“It's a Dreamtime story about all the animals that are in the rock,” she said.

Animals depicted include the cassowary, cockatoo, Rainbow Serpent, echidna and the kangaroo which sits up in the mountain alongside the good shepherd.

The good shepherd is believed to be the protector of the area, he protects the Kuku-Yalanji people and animals in the village and continues taking care of them to this day.

Ms Shuan said she enjoys working across different mediums including painting, screen printing and ceramics.

“I just like to put my artwork out there to show people that I love my country and that I have a strong passion for my culture.”

Through Yalanji Art, Ms Shuan and her fellow artists have had the opportunity to display their work at various exhibitions, including recently in Sydney and Cairns.

“I had art in the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair and all my work on display there was sold,” Ms Shuan said.

Stay tuned for more Yalanji artists stories to follow.

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