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Local indigenous artworks on display in Ipswich

platypus sculptures

By Claire Matthews

Two local First Nations artists will have their work on display in a public art installation in the heart of Ipswich.

Quandamooka artists Kim Ah Sam and Kyra Manktelow were commissioned by Ipswich City Council to create works for an art trail through the recently redeveloped Nicholas Street Precinct and Tulmur Place. 

The installation includes hanging fish traps (Fish Traps), a family of platypus sculptures (Platypus), an Indigenous trade routes ceiling mural (Trade Routes) and a large sculpture (Standing) which is an interpretation of Ipswich’s floral emblem which lights up to a bright green at night.

Artist Kyra Manktelow said the artworks were inspired by indigenous knowledge, cultures and trade routes.

“The artwork that’s displayed has a lot of different concepts. We have the platypus, wallabies, brushtail rock wallabies, a mural and fish traps. So with the mural, I worked on that myself. I wanted to represent the trade routes and trade lines. 

“Traditionally, they were used for trading knowledge, materials, objects, food, songs, so I really wanted to represent that as part of the mural. I feel like Tulmur Place is a place where a lot of trading and sharing of words and knowledge will take place, so having that traditional way of sharing and bringing it to a contemporary place felt very suited.”

Ms Manktelow said the local community in Ipswich also had input in the artworks. 

“The inspiration came from the community. They listed out what they wanted to be represented, so me and the other artist, Aunty Kim Ah Sam, we just followed those guidelines and created what the community wanted to see.”

Ms Manketlow said she feels proud to have her work on display in Ipswich. 

“It’s great. I’ve spent my whole life going to Ipswich and really growing up there and having my work in a space where I’ve always been is great.

“I’m really hoping for Tulmur place to brighten up the community, for it to be a space for everyone to be proud of. A place for people to come and really enjoy the area, enjoy the space and also reflect on Indigenous knowledge, culture and ways of life.”

Ipswich mayor Teresa Harding said public spaces like Tulmur Place are enriched by art and culture and create enjoyment for the community.

“Council is delighted to provide a platform to showcase local art as part of our commitment to enable and advocate for a vibrant creative sector. Public art captures our history and aspirations. It adds to the cultural, aesthetic and economic vitality of our community.

“We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this space and the many more students, locals and tourists who can come and see the wonderful artwork Ipswich has to offer.”

Ms Manktelow said she enjoyed the opportunity to create artworks alongside family and community.

“I’d just like to say that it was a great pleasure to work alongside my Aunty for the community of Ipswich. So working alongside my Aunty, mob and industry, creating a place where our stories and Indigenous stories can be told and shared for the greater community.”

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