Celebratory Indigenous Artworks Series showcased in NQHeritage@JCU 

Art is a universal language.  It allows humans from various cultures to communicate, connect and tell their stories.  With Visual Art, ideas and concepts can travel through time and civilizations to reach the audience without the need for text.  Therefore it is a powerful tool for transmitting ideas between people. Throughout history, Australian Indigenous people have used art as a means of communicating significant matters.  

Apa Kausal by Brian Robinson. © James Cook University. Photograph by Andrew Rankin.

The commissioning of 13 indigenous artists from across Queensland to create artworks that were representative of a story about the provision of healthcare in the community, for the community, and by the community - was a visionary act by the leaders of the James Cook University (JCU) General Practice Training Program in 2018.

JCU, through its General Practice Training Program is the regional provider of general practitioner training in regional, rural and remote Queensland. JCU is committed to delivering a high quality program for GP Registrars and working with partners to achieve better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

Caring for Community by Chern'ee Sutton. © James Cook University. Photograph by Andrew Rankin.

The resulting 13 artworks are now proudly displayed in the program’s 11 regional locations across Queensland and featured in JCU branding. This series of commissioned artworks, consisting of paintings, prints and graphics, represents a wide range of artists from early career to professionals who regularly exhibit. Artists included in the series are Nicky Bidju Prior, Sharon Caulfield, Lyndon Davis, Kevin Edmondstone, Karen Hall, Matthew Humphries, Michael McGuane, Anthony ‘Gesa’ Pilot, Brian Robinson, Chern’ee Sutton, Janeece Thompson ‘Goungee’ (Water Lily), Belynda Waugh and Nicole Wone.

Together We Live - Land & Sea by Kevin Edmondstone. © James Cook University. Photograph by Andrew Rankin.

Marcy Holdsworth (Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, General Practice Training, JCU) who was intimately involved in the commissioning of the artworks has said,
 “The impact of commissioning these artworks is far reaching, it shines a light on upcoming and established artists, gives them a sense of pride for them, their families and communities and it showcases how having doctors in the community has hopefully improved the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  We have used the artwork images on various forms of merchandise and acknowledged the artist, where they are from and their story – this can create a conversation between the doctor and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient. We hope in a small way that this is the start of building relationships and commonalities between the health professionals and the patients. We are very proud to have worked on this project and are committed to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the communities of north Western Queensland.”

GANGA and JULARA: Story of the Sea Eagle and Mullet season by Lyndon Davis. © James Cook University. Photograph by Andrew Rankin.

The establishment of a permanent presence for the Artworks Series in NQHeritage@JCU was created by the Special Collections team to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Mabo Decision.  In this landmark year we are proud to promote this important work and share it through NQHeritage@JCU (our online repository) and the Library social media channels.