Our First Nations artworks
The Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy is honoured to have both an Aboriginal artist and Torres Strait Islander artist create visual representations of the department and its vision. The artworks are by Aboriginal artist Chern’ee Sutton and Torres Strait Islander artist Laurie Nona. The works were unveiled at the department’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff forum in November 2021. Elements of these artworks will feature throughout the department’s projects to strengthen the voices, stories and connections of First Nations peoples.
The artists describe their visual representation below.
Artwork by Chern’ee Sutton, a contemporary Aboriginal artist for the Kalkadoon people in the Mount Isa area, represents the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy’s commitment to a journey together with First Nations people; delivering quality services, building long lasting relationships that embed truth telling, healing and self-determination at the core of our business.
[extracted from Chern’ee Sutton’s website]
Passionate about her art and reconciliation, Cherne’ee wants to share her culture and history with the world through her art and bring a stronger appreciation and compassionate understanding of Aboriginal people.
Her distinctive style is engrained onto the canvases she produces, merging the two worlds of traditional Aboriginal heritage with a modern contemporary twist that is visually captivating catching the eyes of collectors from around the world.
- The kangaroo and emu footprints represent the department, which is always moving forward and never backwards, just like the kangaroo and emu.
- The shield, spears and boomerang represent truth telling and healing – cultural practices from the past returning and to the present and the ancient and unique culture, history and artifacts which have been a part of our country for over 65,000 years.
- The 5 blue, orange and yellow dotted circles represent the department's values which are:
- Customers first
- Ideas into action
- Unleash potential
- Empower people
- Be courageous.
- The coloured community symbol in the top right corner represents the diversity of people, place, partnerships and platforms which make up the department. The people are in the centre, they are of all different nationalities and walks of life, yet they come together to work side by side at the department, represented by the community symbol/meeting place, platforms are represented by the world in the centre of the symbol and partnerships is represented by the weaving around the outside of the symbol. Each individual is their own unique strand, which when combined together weaves into something stronger, functional and beautiful. Through weaving and collaborating a strong platform is created together, with the weaving connecting directly to the department’s community symbol.
- Handprints represent self-determination – supporting community-led programs and mapping services to community.
- The 4 yellow and orange stars represent the departments 4 commitments as part of their strategic plan, with the large blue and purple dotted circles symbolising the 4 areas of the strategic plan that the department will implement as part of the plan.
- The arrow going through the purple community symbol represents the department's purpose “to improve the lives of all Queenslanders by increasing social, economic and digital inclusion.”
- The footprints which travel throughout the painting represent the reconciliation journey between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians which is moving forward together.
- The large orange, red and maroon and symbols which surround the sun represents the department's objectives and the importance of people, place, partnerships and platform, which the department conveys in their work.
- The small orange community symbol around the sun represents the services which the department provides, which are surrounded by silhouetted imager of the services.
- The next largest circle is a community symbol showcasing the ‘person centred’ approach of the department.
- The largest circle with the U symbol (person symbol, the coolamon and digging sticks), represent the Minister for Communities, Housing, Digital Economy and the Arts.
- The large purple community symbol represents the department, with the bright pink dotted circles in the centre representing the organisational structure.
Laurie Nona is from the Badhulgal/Maluyligal people of Badhu Island, Torres Strait. Laurie Nona’s practice incorporates various modes of print media, including linocuts, copperplate etching and carving.
[extracted from the Badu Art Centre website]
All of Laurie’s work shows his deep connections to, and recognition of the importance of Island culture. His work recognises his place in the greater wider world and shows beautiful relationships with the fish and other creatures from the ocean, the skies and winds, the storms and currents and the Islands of the Torres Strait.
A leader and a warrior at heart, 'Uncle Laurie' is revered across the Torres Strait as well known for his work. His versatility is almost perhaps without precedent – and his journeys into colour, form and design across his tribal drums hand coloured etchings and prints. Perhaps one of his greatest strengths is the purity of his line, and the careful and wise balance of form, design and function in his imagery.
Urgabaw Guwa’ (Oo[r] Ga Baw Goo wah) or sweet potato garden
- The leaves represent ‘community’ and the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy’s services.
- The circles on the leaves represent the voices of people in the community.
- The vine symbolises ‘connection’ between service providers, people and community.
- The sweet potato symbolises ‘people’.
- The mound symbolises the department.
Laurie’s interpretation of the artwork at the unveiling was:
“When I got the vision told to me, pretty much the words were, “public service”. So, I worked in public service myself, and so that’s the biggest thing I found to try and create something that was simple, basic but represented what this department is doing. I like what sister here said about government First Nation people, that’s First Nation people fixing the government, from that level and this department, I see that it’s the department now addressing the issues of the grass root level, which are the people, so that’s where it hit home for me and that’s basically what I am trying to say with my artwork.
“When I came to the vision saying, it’s public service, I was sitting in my house on the Island and literally I was thinking, what is public, it’s out there, that means that’s people, that’s community. So, to me, service is what we all do, we have to serve the people, we have to do something, and that something has to be rewarding to 2 people, we who deliver the service and the people we are serving. So, we are the servants. That’s basically, why I came to… I’m just getting a bit emotional at the moment… thinking about my mum who taught me all, the culture I know and the language I know, I speak fluently. My mum was a gardener and she taught us, what you put into your garden is what you get out and I think that this is the public service’s main goal, is as simple as that, it’s that what we do, what we put into our work individually, departmentally, governmentally, is what we get out of it. And I come from community and our people are suffering, we need help, and I take my hat off to what I hear today, with everybody who spoke here. There is a momentum and I hope that our hope gets answered by these movements with the treaty, with the Committee the DG talked about in relation to delivering services on the ground.
“Nine years ago, I did another art piece, I was thinking about the movement of government departments and people leadership, and the name of that artwork was, “Culture Shift”, and this was 9 years ago, and today I can see there’s cultures being shifted in all nations in the country, and I take my hat off to those who are doing it in Queensland. Thank you.”
“That mound is a sweet potato mound, and it represents the department. The leaves represent the community and the people we serve. The department is the mound and also, sorry, the leaves are the community, and the sweet potato are the people, so in order to have good crops, you need to put the work into the garden, and you get out of it what you put in.
- Last updated:
- 22 June 2022