• 2015 NAIDOC Artist of the Year Darren Dunn (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The meeting places of Gamilaroi country, Manilla, Barraba, Bendemeer and Burrabeedee are all represented in the latest work of international Koori artist Darren Dunn. They are significant sites in the life of the NRL designer and where his mother, Dawn Goulding comes from. Like all his designs, the jerseys set to be worn in 2016’s City vs Country clash are imbued with the symbols of that sing to his own spirit. Now, they’ll be shared with the rest of the nation on live TV.
Danny Teece-Johnson

3 May 2016 - 4:32 PM  UPDATED 3 May 2016 - 4:32 PM

Who's ya mob, where are you from?

I'm a Gamilaroi brother. My mum is Dawn Goulding, born and raised on Burrabeedee Mission, Coonabarabran. I lived mostly growing up in Dubbo. Back and forwards all the time.

How did you get into designing jerseys for the NRL? What other designs have you done?

I was the first Indigenous artist who designed the Rabbitohs jersey, Pathers jersey, Parramatta Eels jersey and one for the Cronulla Sharks.

I also design the Burrabeedee sand goannas Jersey each year for the annual Koori Knockout. I’ve painted boots for everyone from Johnathon Thurston, Greg Inglis, Wade Graham, James Roberts, Nathan Peats, Ben Barba, Jack Bird, Semi Radradra for this year’s Test and more. I lost count brah. There's to many to think of ey.

What does the design stand for on the City jersey and what was the inspiration behind it.

This jersey is named Wallay which means "meeting place" in Gamilaroi language.

Wallay acknowledges and honours the sacred sites and unique history of ancient Gamilaroi country and pays respect to the families and communities who live and meet in these places. 

The shoulder sleeves represent the past and present Aboriginal educators and respectable leaders sitting down on country. The leaders are gathered in ceremony, are wearing red, and are painted with white body ochre.

The Sand Goanna Totem is featured on the back of the Kari City jersey and playing shorts. Thuli is his name. He is the leader of Gamilaroi clans and is a protective guardian of this area. May he cover your backs as you walk and play on this land. May you wear him with confidence and pride.

What does the design stand for on the Country jersey and what was the inspiration behind it?

The Country Jersey is called Kangaroo Dreaming will be worn and played in Tamworth, NSW on Gamilaroi country. There are two main aspects that feature in this Jersey. The sacred river systems and the traditional animal totem of these areas, the kangaroo, which is known in local language as Bandaar. Bandaar is my totem.

The side panels represent ‘Shake a Leg’ - a welcome dance of the local traditional people. The hands represent all of Indigenous and non-Indigenous ‘Australia’ coming together as one nation. These elements also feature on the Country players shorts.

The three kangaroos on the back of the jersey pay respect to our past, present and future elders. The white, red and yellow dots are the body ochres which were and still are today worn in ceremonial corroborees around Gamilaroi country and also appear on the Country players jersey collar.

What does it mean to you personally to see your jerseys being worn by the NRL elite and televised around the world?

I see other brothers from another culture wearing our culture. Seeing it televised around the world is encouraging and instils hope and pride in our ability as a people to break down the stigmas that have been formed against our people. It's an opportunity to showcase and celebrate our culture and our connections to this place, the communities and this field of sport.

Where do you think you get your talent from? Has it been passed down from your mob?

I actually don't believe I'm talented. I did something when I was young that kids don't do much today. And that's listen to your Elders and the people that were around me. I admit I'm very eccentric and artistic and a master at my craft. But it comes from being grounded as a young fulla growing up. This is where the talent comes from. ‘Talent isn't taught,’ they say. It’s a gift of listening and learning first, then you become the master.

I learnt what to paint and dance as a young fulla. In all the ups and downs that I've had in life, I'm so thankful that I've always had a strong Koori culture and heritage with me.

I'm blessed that I've got a platform for the next generation to stand up on. I don't want to be known as that famous artist. When I go one day, I want to be known as that Blackfulla D Dunn. I hope they’ll say ‘He helped so many people in life and he never gave up representing his Koori people and Country.’

Any chance that will see an Australian jersey with an Aboriginal design on it one day?

I believe there will be a Australian jersey because the coach Mal Meninga has been talking about a war dance for the World Cup next year. I believe the impact that the City vs Country game - seeing the Koori designs that I did and the education I've put out with my work on national TV will start the ball rolling.

Parramatta Eels Indigenous jersey 70 years in the making
Daren Dunn, the man behind the historic 'Eel Dreaming' jersey, talks to NITV about his design and uniting Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Indigenous All Stars: 'Thapu Wani Watina', meet the 19yo artist behind the jerseys
The Indigenous All Stars’ jerseys featured her artwork. She’s had exhibitions at the Australian Open, Hong Kong and Tokyo. And she’s met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - all at the tender age of 19. This is Chern'ee Sutton.

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