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Tasmanian Devil sculpture

If you have visited Taronga Zoo recently you’ll have seen some changes.

Sea country
Over the past few years we have been working on projects to better acknowledge and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture and Country. Many people and organisations have been involved so far so the work of some wonderfully talented Indigenous artists can be on permanent display in Taronga’s new Main Entry Plaza.

In front of the restored Edwardian Main Entrance building, is a group of works by a team coordinated by Jane Cavanagh of Artlandish Art and Design. The design of each piece was guided by a young NSW artist, Adrina 

Khobane, and they were crafted by Tomas and Tibor Misura. Together the works acknowledge the saltwater people, Country and culture of the Cammeraigal, as well as long-held sustainable practices of Indigenous peoples right across Australia. If you look carefully you will see:

  • a canoe, a fishing line and a fish – interpreting Cammeraigal saltwater culture
  • a Red-necked Wallaby and a Cammeraigal blade – acknowledging traditional connections to Country 
  • a goanna, some angophora leaves and some Regent Honeyeaters – reinforcing the connections between caring for Country and wildlife conservation. 

Once you walk through the entry, with its colourful multimedia Welcome Arch, there is more to explore.

Jipiyontongi

Next to the historic Main Entrance there are two sets of panels. One celebrates Heroes of Conservation which will be updated occasionally, and currently profiles a couple of Taronga’s fabulous volunteers. The other panels remind us of the history of the Zoo and breadth of conservation activity that Taronga gets involved in.

Closer to the wetlands exhibit on the edge of the Plaza, there are two more unique artworks.

The first is Jipiyontongi, representing one adult and one young Jabiru [add image],  is by artist Janice Murray from Melville Island, off the northwest coast of the Northern Territory.

The second is woreminner loonner (bush black woman), a metal casting of a Tasmanian Devil made from bull kelp (pictured above). Vicki West, a Tasmanian Aboriginal artist, collaborated on this work with Julie Squires. Soon after it was made the original bull kelp devil was accepted as an entrant into the 2011 Telstra Art Award.

Together these sculptures highlight connections between Aboriginal cultural practice and the Taronga’s wildlife conservation work. Make sure you have a good look and feel of these beautiful works next time you visit and read the panels to find out more.