• Mural of Dr G Yunupingu by artists Andrew J Bourke and Jesse Bell (Facebook/Darwin Street Art Festival)
Dr G Yunupingu's legacy lives on with street art masterpiece in the heart of Darwin.
By
Sophie Verass

11 Sep 2018 - 12:27 PM  UPDATED 11 Sep 2018 - 3:03 PM

A giant mural of the late Dr G Yunupingu has been constructed in Darwin's CBD as a part of the city's street art festival, to pay tribute to the Territory musician's legacy.

Dr G Yunupingu, award-winning solo singer and former member of Yothu Yindi and Saltwater Band, died of kidney and liver failure in July last year.

A celebrated figure, Dr G's passing was regarded by many as a loss of one of the music greats. His death sparked tributes from prominent figures including fellow musicians Troy Cassar-Daley, Peter Garrett, Briggs, Delta Goodrem and Paul Kelly, and even former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.   

As the humble, blind singer demonstrably touched the heart of millions worldwide, the Yolngu man's family and community in Galiwin'ku, Elcho Island are adamant that his contributions be remembered and his legacy live on.

Dr G's management and music label's SkinnyFish Music have stated that the Yunupingu family have put aside all cultural mourning protocols so that Gurrumul's name can be said, his image can be shown and his voice can be heard.

In April this year, a documentary film about the life of Dr G, titled "Gurrumul" was released and met with widespread positive reception, receiving rave reviews from acclaimed critics.   

In an aim to revitalise its capital city, the Northern Territory Government has hosted its Darwin Street Art Festival again after a successful first year in 2017. This September, 16 murals will be painted over 10 days by established local and national artists.

Described by festival officials as "a truly great Territorian", the first of the mural of the series is a large scale portrait of Dr G Yunupingu and includes the lyrics of his famous song, Baru ("The Saltwater Crocodile") on the side of Carpentaria House, Austin Lane. The song's lyrics were suggested by SkinnyFish and Dr G's family.

The concept was developed by the festival in conjunction with SkinnyFish and consultation with the family. The work is a commissioned collaboration by acclaimed Melbourne artist, Andrew J Bourke and local Indigenous street artist, Jesse Bell. Festival officials told NITV it was important to all parties that the right artists were chosen for the painting.

"Jesse Bell is an extremely talented local artist who has a style we felt would work well for the portrait, it was important to us that there was a local person involved.

Andrew Bourke is an amazing, internationally recognised artist who is well known in the Northern Territory, painting regularly in remote communities. It was important that we chose someone who is known locally and is respectful in the way that he does things," they said. 

In an Instagram post, Bourke stated,

"As I prepare for my next project, I feel honored to be given the opportunity to paint the late Dr G Yunupingu for my mural at the Darwin Street Art Festival this year. Such an iconic and important voice who will be forever remembered on a global scale for his gift in music."

Some family members visited the site last night and the Yunupingu family plan on holding a ceremony to officially launch the mural once it is completed. It is anticipated to be finished by mid-next week.

The mural is intended to remain indefinitely and become an iconic piece of art in the city's landscape.  

Darwin Street Art Festival runs 6 - 16 September.