The Carpet Snake – a Dreamtime story at Sculpture in the Gaol


Image: (Jessica Robertson) telling of the King of the Birds Dreamtime story by Dunghutti community members at SITG 2018

The carpet snake, the eagle and the shark are the three principal characters in a Dreamtime story that will come to life in sculptures created by local pre-school students at this year’s Sculpture in the Gaol exhibition.

The story has been recounted by local Elders, Uncle John Kelly and Auntie Vicki Taylor, who has been instrumental in teaching the Dunghutti language to children in the region.

Following the overwhelmingly positive response received by last year’s King of the Birds installation, featuring clay nests arranged in a canoe and involving more than 200 community members, the team at Dalaigur Pre-School & Children’s Services knew their work would be cut out to match this achievement.

This year’s installation is set to include papier maché and plaster models of the three animals at the centre of the story and once again, involves all the children associated with both Dalaigur and Scribbly Gum Dalai Pre-Schools in Kempsey.

“The kids work on the project at least once a week, telling the story and learning language, which we verify using the Dunghutti Dictionary,” Uncle John Kelly said. Uncle John will conduct a smoking ceremony at this year’s Family Gala Day on Sunday, August 4, when the installation is unveiled at Trial Bay Gaol.

“The exhibition offers a great opportunity for our community of students to learn about and for our Elders to share cultural knowledge with the wider community,” director of Dalaigur Pre-School & Children’s Services, Megan McKay said.

Entries for the main exhibition, which runs from Saturday, August 3 to Friday, August 30, can be made via the website, until the end of June. There is no entry fee for artists and the prize pool currently stands at $5,000.

Phil Nicholas