When you fly to another country, the moment you step off the plane your senses are aroused. The sights, the smell and the sounds all seem to call in unison – you have arrived!
It’s such a powerful feeling. And it’s one that airports all around the world have focussed on capturing and enhancing, not only because this is your first welcome to country, but also because they know you are most likely jet-lagged, stressed and you still have to get through customs and border control.
To help you through these processes, airports try to sustain the buzz of arriving in a new place. They may have stunning images of local landmarks and scenery. Or it might be the dozens of large displays of tropical orchids that build the sense of place.
When you arrive in Brisbane, you receive a ‘sensory hug’ from acclaimed Indigenous artist, the late Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori. And let’s face it, after a long flight we can all use a hug, especially right now!
This extraordinary artwork stretches a massive 750 metres along the arrivals concourse at BNE’s International Terminal, filling the walls from floor to ceiling with sections of some of Mrs Gabori’s paintings, digitally reproduced and arranged to create an entirely ‘new’ work.
The vibrant colours and patterns are the perfect welcome to Queensland – the imagery is inspired by the artist’s home on Bentinck Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. You can imagine the sand bars, salt pans, mangrove swamps and reefs, all dazzled by a sparkling ocean.
It’s a wonderful first impression of Brisbane, one that recognises the richness and beauty of the natural landscape, and the depth and importance of our country’s indigenous history and culture.
Mrs Gabori was a respected traditional Kaiadilt Elder and is recognised as one of the most significant contemporary Indigenous artists of the early part of this century. What’s especially astonishing about her legacy is that she only began painting in 2005, in her late seventies! Mrs Gabori’s interpretation of her Bentinck Island home took the contemporary art world by storm and by the time of her passing in 2015 she was firmly established as a remarkable and important Australian artist.
Sadly, Mrs Gabori was never able to see the ‘Sensory Hug’ installation at Brisbane Airport, which was unveiled in the latter part of 2015. However, the millions of passengers that have arrived in Brisbane since its installation continue to be delighted by the bright, evocative scenes that welcome them.
From 4-11 July, NAIDOC Week is recognised around Australia. This is a time to observe and celebrate the history, culture and achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.