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Indigenous artist starts next McNamara Street mural

By June 18, 2021Future City, News

Local artist Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill is the next artist to create a mural in McNamara Street as part of Orange City Council’s FutureCity upgrade of the area.

Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill is a proud Nhunngabarra man who is inspired by the legacy of his Grandfather, Tex Skuthorpe, a highly respected Nhunggal man, artist, teacher and author.

Sandon’s Future City Public Art Project mural Community is a contemporary design that draws on aspects of traditional Aboriginal art. The mural is being created on the Canobolas Hotel garage in the McNamara Street carpark.

COMMUNITY: Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill works on his mural near the McNamara Street car park.

Three rivers, painted in blue, will reflect the Wiradjuri people, the ‘people of the three rivers’ the Wambool (Macquarie), Kalari (Lachlan) and Murrumbidgee.

Two circular designs joined by a pathway will illustrate past, present and future communities and the importance of sharing knowledge and showing respect. A circle in the background will illustrate the land and how everything is connected.

The use of dots within a circular pattern will reflect community with each dot having an important role in the overall circle. Just as each person plays a vital role in our community.

Community reflects a connection to the land on which we walk and its traditional custodians, the Wiradjuri people.

Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said the response from the community about the first two murals in the area had been diverse.

“Good art invokes a response from people and that’s certainly been the case with the two murals partially completed in the area by Canberra artist Yanni Pounartzis and Orange artist Tully Moore,” Cr Kidd said.

“Both murals are still incomplete but I encourage everyone to take a stroll over to McNamara Street and check out what has been created.”
Orange City Council’s Employment and Economic Development Policy Committee Chair Tony Mileto said Council had invested in public art to encourage people to visit the area.

“Public art creates a great atmosphere, creates talking points and encourages foot traffic in an area,” he said.

“It’s designed to give the businesses in McNamara Street an economic boost.”

Sandon said he had received a great response from the community as people watched his artwork take form over the last week.

“People have loved it so far and they’ve stopped to have in depth conversations about it,” he said.

“I love that, I love people asking me questions and engaging with the art and learning about its meaning.

“It’s not just a pretty picture, there’s value.

He said it was a “big deal” for him to be chosen to create a mural in the city of his birth.

“It’s really good and important to see Aboriginal art out in public,” Sandon said.

Of the four artists involved in the first instalment of the project, two are locals:

  • Yanni Pounartzis – Canberra, ACT
  • Tully Moore – Orange, NSW
  • Catherine O’Donnell – Blue Mountains, NSW
  • Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill – Orange, NSW

Sandon spent his early years in Goodooga, NSW on Nhunngall country before moving to Orange where he has lived on Wiradjuri land for over 20 years.

Sandon didn’t plan to be an artist. He grew up with dreams of a football career and then went on to study a Bachelor of Community and Social Development at University. It was only recently that he fully committed himself to his art-practice through the development of his business Burruguu Art.

Sandon is inspired by the traditional Nhunggabarra stories and uses this knowledge to create contemporary Aboriginal art. He is inspired by the land, his culture and community.

Through his artwork Sandon hopes to challenge stereotypes, educate others and continue to learn more about his culture.

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