Gunyah is a project that has been in incubation for over ten years. Inspired by the famous Spiegeltent and the challenges of making contemporary art and reclaiming traditional culture in the remote East Gippsland region. This motivated the Gunyah team to provide an alternative to the Euro-centric model of arts venues in Australia, creating a moveable Aboriginal arts space that would put Aboriginal culture on centre stage.
The team has a local imperative; to ensure Aboriginal culture in East Gippsland is visible and positively represented, and a global aspiration to showcase Aboriginal arts and culture across Victoria, Australia and beyond.
Gunyah has two interrelated functions: To figure as an iconic Aboriginal public art work, and to function as an arts venue in which Aboriginal arts and culture can be presented. Designed in a partnership between artists and architect, the inflatable art-space will take the form of a giant crab shell.
The exterior surface of the shell will become a vast canvas for an extraordinary Aboriginal
Inside, Gunyah will be a flexible venue space that can be configured in multiple ways to suit a range of uses. Two-sided rotating internal paneling will enable the space to move between presenting stories by local Aboriginal people about their bush shelters as depicted by the project’s lead artists, and white walls for displaying other art work. The paneling will be veneered with East Gippsland red box timber and decorated with traditional grass weaving and wood burning techniques of this area. Kangaroo skins will become a stunning cover to the seating attached to the red box panels.
The venue will be made from inflatable rip stop nylon and PVC material and will attach to a fully customised shipping container. The container will be used as storage for the shell when traveling or when not in use, and provides the arts space with air conditioning, a small back-up generator in case of power outages and fans required to inflate the venue. It will also be fitted out with a Kitchenette/Bar/Servery to one end. It requires a 600 m2 area or 30meters x 20meters approx. footprint to erect the venue with a relatively flat and level site, (I.e. Football oval etc.) Ballast will be required to ground the venue from winds and will vary depending on the site conditions. Ballast will be sand bags, water, or screw pegs as required. Modula flooring can also be provided throughout should this be required.