Work begins next week on the installation of the Citizens Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, an iconic public artwork on The Esplanade which will frame the view out to the Reef when it is unveiled on August 31.
Designed by Cairns Indigenous artist Brian Robinson, the monumental 11m-wide sculpture has a 6m-high helix depicting a wave of sea creatures and birds led by a life-size stingray.
The Citizens Gateway will inspire those who see it to think about the Great Barrier Reef, its enduring history and its connection to the people who live along its 2300km length.
Visitors can walk beneath the helix, see their reflection in its mirror-polish stainless steel and understand how they too are connected to the Reef, no matter where they live.
The Citizens Gateway will be fully wrapped when it arrives at The Esplanade on Monday, but the public will get glimpses of the artwork as it is being installed ready to be unveiled at sunrise on August 31.
Brian Robinson’s woven stainless steel fish installation at the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon has become a national icon and the Citizens Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the most extraordinary public artworks currently underway in Australia, will add to that collection.
Mr Robinson said the artwork reflected his Indigenous heritage demonstrating the Great Barrier Reef’s connection to the culture of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“The stingray is my family totem from my mother’s people, the Wuthathi from Shelburne Bay,” he said.
“Adding to its aesthetics are marks drawing on the carving traditions of the Torres Strait, the distinctive graphic style with origins in Melanesian artistry, in the rhythmical forms of pattern and dance.
“Six local Aboriginal artists from the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people and the Yirrganydji people have created stingray designs which will be stamped into the ground plane of the artwork to convey the unique cultural life and expression of Tropical North Queensland and the significance of the Reef and oceans to these people.
“Stingrays capture the spirit of the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef as they glide over the Reef without touching the coral, just as humankind should not touch the Reef.”
The artwork has involved collaboration with local Traditional Owners the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people and the Yirrganydji people, Mr Robinson, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, curators and project managers CREATIVE MOVE, Cairns Regional Council, fabricators UAP and site designer Total Project Group Architects.
It was made possible by the support of the Australian Government through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Cairns Regional Council, Cairns Regional Council through the Embracing 2018 Public Domain Improvement Program, the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland’s Backing Indigenous Arts Initiative and Ports North – Port of Cairns.
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef was established to empower current and future generations of the world with the knowledge, experience and ability to protect and enjoy the Great Barrier Reef. Its mission is to drive and communicate positive action with tangible outcomes for both this World Heritage area and our planet. Become an active Citizen at CitizensGBR.org.