Aurukun’s Wik and Kugu artists will give a demonstration of their carving skills at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair on July 14 and 15.
The artists will carve their famous camp dogs, called ku, on the lawns of the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal at 10am-12pm and 2-4pm on both days.
Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Dereck Walpo said it would be a unique opportunity for the public to meet Aurukun’s carvers and watch them create the sculptures which had been exciting the art world.
“CIAF is the peak exhibition for the Wik and Kugu Art Centre which has a proud tradition of carving passed down through the generations,” he said.
“Our artists were honoured to have each of the 42 carvings they submitted to CIAF accepted by the curator for display which I understand is quite a coup.
“Among the work is a family of dogs by Vernon Marbendinar, large and small camp dogs as well as birds.
“The ku is a totem for everyone in Aurukun which is why it is a popular carving. Many of the artists also carve their own personal totems.
“Last year every camp dog carving was sold at CIAF with the majority being bought by the National Gallery of Victoria before the exhibition opened to the public.”
Artist Lex Namponan said creating each dog was like doing a puzzle as he looked for the shape of the animal in pieces of soft milky pine which is collected from the scrub around Aurukun.
“After carving the body and head I pin the back legs in and use glue and sawdust to pack it inside. Then once it is dry I attach the front legs and then the ears and tail,” he explained.
Artists Garry Namponan and Bruce Bell are among the master carvers teaching younger artists to carve and showing students at the Aurukun State School their skills.
“Kids from the school come to the Art Centre and learn about our wood carving. We explain to them about the paint and the mud clay that we use,” Mr Bell said.
The exhibiting artists are Garry Namponan, Bruce Bell, Lex Namponan, Leigh Namponan, Roderick Yunkaporta, Sammy Kerindun, Vernon Marbendinar, David Marpoondin and Bevan Namponan.