In June 2014, three large murals were installed on the outside wall of the main toilet block near the showground’s top gate. The murals are the work of four local Aboriginal artists and show, through time, the significance of this place to Aboriginal people. The murals are also painted in three different styles, to reflect the stories each mural tells. Each mural features a large circle as part of the design, to represent the bora ring that was formerly on this site. Known as a Wandarahn, this bora ring site is of great significance throughout the Bundjalung and surrounding Aboriginal nations.
For more information about the Aboriginal and European heritage of the Lismore Showgrounds, please browse our website or come and see the beautiful signage, with stories and photos, inside the Showground’s main front gate. And make sure you look at our beautiful murals, too.
Gilbert Laurie and Oral Roberts (Traditional style painting)
The left-hand section is painted by Gilbert Laurie and Oral Roberts. Gilbert is a Bundjalung and Yaegl man and Oral is a Widjabul/Wiabal man. Both artists grew up in Lismore and live locally.
“Our painting shows the Banyam/Baigham Wandarahn (the North Lismore ceremonial gathering place) with a large Ngamahl (lizard) and Nurimbah (snake). The lizard and the snake story tells of the creation of this land and the waterways.
“We have painted the three other animals that are closely connected with this site: Guruman (kangaroo), Buninj (echidna) and Dirany (Jumping ants).
“The other animals in our painting represent nearby Bundjalung peoples who travelled here for ceremonies.”
Eric Ferguson (Contemporary style painting)
The middle section is by Eric Ferguson, an Arakwal artist from Cabbage Tree Island who now lives in Lismore.
“My painting shows the historical transition from traditional Aboriginal times through to the 1970s. In the centre you can see the trading that took place between peoples here at Banyam/Baigham. We coastal people would have brought seafood as our contribution to the feasts at the large cultural gatherings that happened on the showground site.
“Other parts of the painting represent Show traditions that have been important to Aboriginal people, such as the boxing tent, farm animals, the woodchop and the displays in the pavilions.”
Rob Smith (Graffiti style painting)
The right-hand section is by Rob Smith a Bundjalung artist and family man who lives in Lismore.
“My painting takes up the story from Eric’s and uses contemporary graffiti-style art to paint the Show as it is in 2013. I included the things people like about coming to the Show: the rides, dodgem cars, circus tent and the sideshow games.
“Even though we are doing new things, the old people still watch over us and keep reminding us of our traditions and connections to the land”.
These murals are part of an Australian Government funded project to produce interpretive signage and a mural for this significant Aboriginal site.
A big thank you must go to the following people who worked tirelessly on this project:
Dr Rob Garbutt (SCU) as researcher
and Cynthia McDermott as the project coordinator.