Paul Bong

bongBorn: 1963, Cairns, QLD

Lives: Cairns

Clan/Clan Grou: Yidinyji

My given tribal name is Bindur Bullin, after a great warrior.  I am a descendant of the Yidinji tribe who occupied the fertile rainforest lands from Cairns in the north to Babinda in the south and west into the Atherton Tablelands as far as Kairi.

My ancestral history is rooted in this region.  My great-grandparents were both tribal elders when all the lands were Yidinji.  My father, George, also knew the traditional ways of living.  He spoke the Yidinji language, though he wasn’t allowed to speak it when he went to school.  He was forced to reject the traditional ways and to assimilate to the white society.  This broke the continuity of our culture, language and heritage that has been passed down through many generations.

It has been up to me to research my cultural background and to rediscover my heritage.  My grandmother, who spoke Yidinji, taught me stories and legends about the rainforest – its bush food, animals, young warriors and special places such as Babinda Boulders and the Gordonvale Pyramid.  These stories are the inspiration to a lot of my work.

I incorporate traditional designs with modern techniques in my art, and each design has a spiritual meaning. Traditionally very design had a different meaning associated with totems or inspired by legends.

1992-94    Associate Diploma, Indigenous Art Studies, Tropical North Queensland TAFE, Cairns
1993-present    Print traineeship with Master Printer Theo Tremblay at Editions Tremblay, Cairns

Related Work

1994-2010    Tjapukai Aboriginal Arts Corporation, Smithfield QLD – Dancer, set designer shop manager
1988-2010    Freelance casual artist/designer, musician (guitar, didgeridoo) & performer
2010-present    Full time artist/printmaker; child foster carer with wife Elizabeth Bong

Residencies

2014    Gorman House Art Centre + Megalo Print Workshop, Canberra
1992    Studio One Inc, Canberra, two week residency, vinylcut relief printing, etching & stone lithography with master printer Theo Tremblay

Group Exhibitions

2014    Stories from Home: Looking Back, Canopy Art Centre, Cairns (official event of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair)
Murrifactive Shield Studies, Paul Bong, UMI Arts, Cairns
INKFEST Ink Masters Cairns Inc. Print Biennale, Tanks Arts Centre
2013    Inside / Outside – Mapping Personal Journeys; Inkmasters touring exhibition, Artslink Queensland to selected Queensland regional galleries
Christmas Exhibition, Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seattle, Washington, USA
2011-12    Artist’s cooperative gallery, Orchid Plaza, Cairns with Seith Fourmile, Billy Missi
2003    Story Place, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLD; traditional painted shields and swords, collaborating with Uncle Stuart Bong
2004    Brothers in Art, joint exhibition with John Mast, paintings and prints, Banggu Minjaani Gallery, FNQ TAFE
1998/1999    International Gift Fair – touring selected collaborative glass works with Judith Bohm-Parr of Studio 8, Innisfail, QLD in Australia, USA, Germany
1994    Graduating Student Exhibition, Banggu Minjaani Art Gallery, Cairns TAFE
Student exhibition, Pacific Hotel, Cairns

Publications

2003    Story Place – Indigenous Art of Cape York and the Rainforest, exhibition catalogue p. 176 (by Ian Were), Queensland Art Gallery publication, Brisbane

Commissions

1998    Air New Zealand, Collaborative glass presentation slump-moulded dish with Studio 8 Glass Workshop, Fishery Falls, QLD
1995    Brisbane International Airport, Departure lounge, rainforest shields

Grants

2014    Arts Qld Professional Studies Grant to work in Canberra, ACT

Represented

Canopy Art Centre, Cairns