Indigenous artist, Alara Geebung (Cameron), forged the connections between the Gold Coast’s natural beauty to create a unique piece of art that aims to portray the importance of connected pathways coming together. The artwork was created to welcome the IASP 31st World Congress to Gold Coast, Australia and is represented within the new congress logo.
Alara is an indigenous artist from the Gold Coast, Australia, where he has lived and worked for the last decade. Alara is connected to the land through the Bidjara caretakers of the land surrounding Carnarvon Gorge and through strong ties with the Bundjalung / Yugambeh communities. Alara started painting five years ago and in that short time has participated in a number of exhibitions. Alara’s practice is one of healing, and of translating the stories and the ways of his elders in both contemporary and traditional ways. Storytelling is an important component within Australian Indigenous art and the IASP team has been privileged to have this unique piece portraying the importance and benefits of a global conference coming together within Australia’s Gold Coast.
Alara has titled this piece, ‘Being with Nature’ and includes the following explanation:
‘The painting showcases the natural beauty of the Gold Coast with Grandfather Sun shining over our beautiful Mother’s golden beaches, crystal clear waters and lush rainforest hinterlands whilst sharing the knowledge of our old people. Their knowledge, which was gained through observing and being with nature. This guided their ways and created strong and healthy communities. This opposes the disconnection experienced by many that unfortunately has led to the high number of suicides in particular within our First Nation communities.
The centrepiece symbolises body, mind and spirit/consciousness and in particular captures the upcoming gathering (IASP 31st World Congress) and its primary focus on how we help those in need find their way to a place where these three elements can be harmonious within. The animals represent both people coming far and near to the conference as well as sharing the wisdom gained by the artist through observing their ways.
Each animal shares a story that demonstrates the protective factors within First Nation people’s connection to land and culture. The mibunn (sea eagle) possesses the virtue of patience which is demonstrated by its way of catching julum (fish). The booning (echidna) shows us the importance of not imposing our ways and living off the land in its natural form. The gurruman (kangaroo) shows us the importance of family/community and how their incredibly strong social and family dynamics are crucial to their survival. The bingeeng (sea turtle) spends the majority of its life alone equally delivering a message that we have our own path and to not follow others blindly without some internal investigation first which is extremely important in these current misleading times we are living in today.
Lastly, the gowonda (dolphin) shares with us the importance of joy and how simply this can be found within nature. This is also strongly demonstrated by First Nation people and how they often use joy in the form of humour to help manage the up and downs of life.’
It was important for IASP to capture the essence of Alara’s message in the congress logo. The central imagery of the original artwork was used as the focal point of the congress logo as it carries an impactful message. Representing the heart of the congress, it illustrates everyone coming together globally to further suicide prevention. The bingeeng (sea turtle) communicates people from all over the world attending and a deeper meaning, in that we all have our own path to follow and not to follow others blindly, which is such a powerful message. Yellow and orange were used to represent World Suicide Prevention Day in the sand and turtle, bringing together the knowledge from ancestors which was gained through observing and being with nature, as well as the colours which represent the eternal flame of life.
The IASP 31st World Congress will be held from 21st-24th September 2021 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Queensland. It is the primary global collaborative opportunity for expert thinking related to suicide and suicide prevention, bringing together academics, researchers, practitioners, those with lived experience, diverse backgrounds, and innovators associated with suicide prevention efforts or working within suicide prevention-related topics. The event is hybrid, with the full programme available in person and virtually online. To learn more about the congress, click here.