27 February 2024

Aurukun artist puts culture on show with Melbourne solo exhibition

| Lyndon Keane
Start the conversation

Well-known Aurukun artist Keith Wikmunea’s large-scale sculptures have put his culture and community on the map at the Melbourne Art Fair this month. Photo: Supplied.

The profile of one of Aurukun’s most prodigious artists continues to grow as his stunning work turned heads in the Victorian capital last week.

Keith Wikmunea’s sculptures, including the western Cape York community’s iconic camp dogs and the 4.2-metre milkwood tree that won him the 2023 Telstra Art Award, have been on display in the artist’s first solo exhibition at the Melbourne Art Fair from 22-25 February.

Mr Wikmunea said his adoption of large-scale works allowed him to share his stories and the culture of Aurukun with a wider audience, as the sheer size of the exhibition made his art impossible to miss.

“When I started doing this large-scale artwork, I wanted to get the stories of my people and the land out in the open,” he explained.

“This is how people can learn about us people from Aurukun.

“My clan is Apalech, which represents the ‘clear water’ [and] the cockatoos are my main totem, so I like to share these with people, too.”

READ ALSO Aurukun artist wins $100,000 Telstra Art Award

Wik and Kugu Art Centre manager Gabe Waterman praised Mr Wikmunea’s work and said the Melbourne exhibition presented solo shows and works of scale and significance from over 60 leading galleries.

“Wik and Kugu Arts Centre was invited to have Keith Wikmunea exhibit in his first ever solo exhibition following his amazing win at the Telstra Art Awards last year,” Mr Waterman said.

“Keith’s work will be one of his most ambitious, with a large-scale sculptural installation including a 4.2-metre milkwood tree, complemented by 12 carved cockatoo and galah totems, and a pack of camp dogs.”

2023 Telstra Art Award winner Keith Wikmunea at work at Aurukun’s Wik and Kugu Arts Centre. Photo: Aurukun Shire Council.

Start the conversation

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.