WARRAJAMBA THE MERMAID
DELVENE AND THE SEARCH FOR WARRAJAMBA THE MERMAID!
Evelyn Parkin, the mother of North Stradbroke Island artist and Commonwealth Games medals’ designer Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, has finally confirmed what many have always wanted to believe.
Mermaids really do exist!
Evelyn told a wonderful story at the recent opening of her daughter’s amazing exhibition, The Search for Warrajamba, at the Redlands Art Gallery.
The exhibition along with the opening, is the culmination of an exciting time for Delvene.
Not only have her Gold Coast Games medal designs been highly acclaimed, she featured prominently (with niece Isabella Graham) in the countdown to the opening ceremony of the Games.
At the same time she was putting the final touches to this exhibition at the Redlands Gallery, the final part of her Doctor of Philosophy research in Indigenous Perspectives (Creative Arts) at the Batchelor Institute. Hectic more like it!
Through installations, prints and ceramics, the artist explores identity and mediums as part of an inquiry into a generational oral story of a mermaid named Warrajamba – a cultural figure first introduced to her through the words of her grandmother.
Evelyn explained how it call came about at the opening.
She said the exhibition identifies Delvene’s ‘gentle spirit’ in the ‘beautiful work’ that is on exhibition.
“She has listened and imparted many of the stories that have been handed down from her family.”
“Warrajamba, from the stories handed down through five generations, is not a myth.
“Warrajamba is not a dugong, or a sea cow. She is a mermaid; she is real,” Evelyn said.
And so Delvene has proved with the highlight of her exhibition, ‘Search for Warrajamba’.
Utilising a wonderful piece of washed up timber as the base, she has fashioned a beautiful body and tail of the mermaid from shells and sea items provided by family and friends on Minjerribah, North Stradbroke Island.
Professor of Art at the Sunshine Coast University, Sandy O’Sullivan, officially opened the exhibit, lauding Delvene’s instincts and direction.
She is the person who has guided Delvene to her doctorate.
She told the packed gallery at the opening: “This is a remarkable body of work.
“Delvene has learned much from her ancestors, family and community to produce The Search for Warrajamba.”
The exhibit contains weavings, sculpture and hangings that reveal Delvene’s artistic bent using mediums that are direct from her cultural background.
They include items from her artistic very beginnings.
She told The Friendly Bay Islander that her artistic directions had been heavily influenced by her culture, her family and her island life; so evident in her medal designs.
“It has been a wonderful and exciting time recently,” she added.
That could be somewhat of an understatement.
The Search for Warrajamba is on exhibit with another complementary exhibit, Salt Marsh Whispers, featuring the photographic works of Jo-Anne Driessens. Both will be on exhibit at the Redlands Gallery until Sunday, May 27.
Redland Art Gallery Director Emma Bain said the joint exhibition was one of the ‘highlights’ of her time at the gallery.
“I hope many people come to see this unique event.”
DON’T MISS: Panel Talk and Morning Tea Sunday 27 May, 10am, Redland Art Gallery, Cleveland. Be at the gallery for morning tea and hear from Freja Carmichael, Delvene Cockatoo Collins and Jo-Anne Driessens.
• Delvene and Che Cockatoo-Collins and Warrajamba the mermaid.