Issue 8
Monday, 05 June 2017
Charles Darwin University
Shirley Downing with her painting Gurambai
Shirley Downing with her painting Gurambai

Artwork of Gurambai to inspire students

By Leanne Miles

An impressive artwork, measuring five metres across and taking six years to complete, of iconic Larrakia waterway Gurambai (Rapid Creek) has been unveiled at Charles Darwin University.

The seven-panel work by Shirley Downing was acquired as part of the CDU Art Collection and is displayed in the student support area of the Indigenous Leadership precinct on Casuarina campus.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks said Gurambai captured important natural habitats embedded in the urban landscape that have significant meaning for both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents of Darwin.

“We are very proud to have Gurambai on our campus and particularly in the Indigenous student study area appropriately named Gurambai,” Professor Maddocks said.

“I am sure the students using this space will get great enjoyment from the painting, which I think lends a very peaceful and culturally relevant atmosphere to the room.”

Gurambai was a labour of love for Ms Downing, who said she enjoyed taking her grandchildren to picnic in the riverine forest, and wanted the painting to reflect the waterway as a place of fun, exploration, learning and sustenance.

Ms Downing said she sought permission from the traditional land owners of Darwin, the Larrakia people, and was given the creek’s name: Gurambai.

Although the painting has had a home at CDU for more than a decade, the recent unveiling marks CDU’s formal acquisition of this unique artwork and its display in the Indigenous Leadership precinct.

The painting is located in building Blue 2.1.20.