Art of the Skins Digital Stories

Melinda Serico

Melinda Serico is a descendant of the Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi people from the Sunshine Coast region on her grandmother’s side, and the Iman people from Central Queensland on her grandfather’s side. She is a practising visual artist inspired by places in the landscape, nature’s beauty and her cultural heritage.

Melinda describes learning about cloak making through a historical newspaper article, which inspired her to research her cultural connections and traditional practices further. Her digital story reflects on the important intergenerational exchange that occurred during community collaborations and workshops that she participated in.

Melinda has shared her artwork and story as part of the Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi Community Cloak.

Digital story with Melinda Serico
Location: kuril dhagun, SLQ, 2016
A part of Art of the Skins exhibition

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Melinda Serico

Contact State Library Queensland for more information regarding Melinda Serico.

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Uncle Nurdon Serico

Senior Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi Elder Uncle Nurdon Serico has worked extensively with Indigenous communities and the health system. After a long career in Radiography, including recognition with a Churchill Fellowship, Uncle Nurdon is now retired, devoting his time to sharing and preserving his culture.

Uncle Nurdon shares a personal account of possum skin cloak making traditions. Drawing on stories and cultural knowledge handed down from generations, he provides insight into the significance of these practices for Aboriginal people and how this relates to traditional methodologies of caring for Country such as resourcefulness and sustainability.

Uncle Nurdon has shared his artwork and story as part of the Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi Community Cloak.

Digital story with Uncle Nurdon Serico
Location: Upper Mary Valley, Kenilworth, 2015

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Uncle Nurdon Serico

Contact State Library Queensland for more information regarding Uncle Nurdon Serico.

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Libby Connors

Libby Connors is a senior history lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland. She is the author of a number of Australian history books, including Warrior: A legendary leader's dramatic life and violent death on the colonial frontier (2015). Warrior revolves around the life of Dundalli, an Aboriginal leader and hero at the forefront of opposition to settlement of the Moreton Bay district the region around Meanjin, or Brisbane city, in the 1840s. This publication also provides valuable references to possum skin cloaks in the daily life of Aboriginal people in South East Queensland.

Libby discusses her research, mainly uncovered from pastoralists’ papers, Tom Petrie’s reminiscences and the historical account from Gaiarbau (also referred to as Uncle Willie McKenzie). During the 1950’s, Dr L P Winterbotham recorded a number of interviews with Gaiarbau which was compiled into a manuscript. This documentation provides a detailed understanding of Aboriginal culture in South East Queensland during settlement times.

Digital story with Libby Connors
Location: John Oxley Library, SLQ, 2015
A part of the Art of the Skins exhibition.

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Libby Connors

Contact State Library Queensland for more information regarding Libby Connors.

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Aunty Joyce Watson, Judy Watson and Rani Carmichael

Aunty Joyce Watson, her daughter Judy Watson and grand-daughter Rani Carmichael are descendants of the Waanyi people of North West Queensland. Aunty Joyce and Judy are both practising visual artists, working across a range of mediums including print making. Judy is an internationally renowned visual artist, through her practice she explores and reflects a strong connection to land, culture and histories of Aboriginal people.

Aunty Joyce, Judy and Rani’s story celebrates family and pays tribute to their maternal connection. Together, they share how stories have been handed down through generations, inspiring their artworks for the Brisbane Community Cloak.

Digital story with Aunty Joyce Watson, Judy Watson and Rani Carmichael
A part of Art of the Skins exhibition.
Location: Annerley, Qld, 2016

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Aunty Joyce Watson, Judy Watson and Rani Carmichael

Contact State Library Queensland for more information regarding Aunty Joyce Watson, Judy Watson and Rani Carmichael.

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Introducing Art of the Skins Exhibition

Awakening South East Queensland historical traditions through contemporary art, Art of the Skins revitalises the practice of possum skin cloak making. The exhibition held at State Library of Queensland from 25 Jun till 20 Nov 2016.

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Introducing Art of the Skins Exhibition

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Carol McGregor

Digital story with Carol McGregor
A part of the Art of the Skins exhibition
Location: kuril dhagun, Qld, 2016

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Carol McGregor

Contact State Library Queensland for more information regarding Carol McGregor.

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Glennys Briggs

Digital story with Glennys Briggs
A part of Art of the Skins exhibition.
Location: kuril dhagun, Qld, 2016

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Glennys Briggs

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Art of the Skins exhibition trailer

Carol McGregor, lead artist, researcher and Wathaurung woman (Victoria) introduces State Library of Queensland's major exhibition, Art of the Skins.

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Art of the Skins exhibition trailer

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Breadcrumb trail:

SLQ Home  >  Showcase  >  Art of the Skins  >  Digital Stories

Exhibition catalogue

Read the Art of the Skins exhibiton catalogue on issuu.com
Download the Art of the Skins exhibiton catalogue [PDF 5.3Mb]

Acknowledgements and disclaimers

Brisbane Community Cloak

Brisbane community cloak

Artists: Leesa Watego & Ah Kee Family (1), Freja & Sonja Carmichael (2), Aunty Dawn Daylight (3), Antonia & Charli Burke (4), Aunty Joyce Watson (5), Katina Davidson (6), Jenna Lee (7), Malinda Flynn (8), Donna Ives (9), Brooke Graham & Delvene Cockatoo-Collins (10), Debbie Presley (11), Ryan Presley (12), Debbie Taylor (13), Tori-Jay Mordey (14), Robert Andrew (15), Venessa Williams (16), Chantay Link (17), Sophie Taylor (18), Gordon Hookey (19), Elena Wangurra (20), Ashley & Tait McGregor (21), Jason Murphy & Jordana Angus (22), Chenaya Bancroft-Davis (23), Dale Harding (24), Amanda Hayman (25), Carol McGregor (26), Laurie Nilsen (27), Judy Watson & Rani Grace Watson Carmichael (28), Elisa Jane Carmichael (29), Damon Anderson (30)
Sewers: Freja Carmichael, Chantay Link, Carol McGregor
Ochre: Rick Roser

Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi Community Cloak

Gubbi-Gubbi cloak

Artists: Melinda Serico (1,17), Margie Kennedy (2,8), Troy Georgetown (3,6,11), Annaleise Krause (4,11), Yvette Thompson (4,16,17), Uncle Nurdon Serico (5), Shelley Monkland (7,9), Bianca Beetson (10), Brayden Krause (11,15), Leisha Krause (12), Boni Robertson (13), Kim Williams (14), Kim Tilley (15,16), Aidan Finn (17)
Sewers: Leisha Krause, Shelley Monkland, Bianca Beetson.
Ochre: Melinda Serico

Wiruungga Cloak

Wirruunga cloak

Story: Wiruungga Dunggiirr (numbers denote individual stories)
Artists: Wiruungga Dunggiirr, Donna McKnight, Raina Donovan, Christabel Mary Wilton, Rawhinia Castle, Astar Castle, Katusha Smith, Sharon Hudson, Mariah Hudson, Paris Hudson, Anthony Donovan, Terri-Anne Goodreid
Sewer: Katusha Smith
Ochre: Rick Roser

Gold Coast Community Cloak

Gold Coast cloak

Artists: Trisha Newton (1), Paul Craft (2), Glennys Briggs (3), Paula Nihot (4), Julie Ellis (5), Annie Woodcock (6), Jason Passfield (7), Aunty Joyce Summers (8), Aunty Pat Leavy (9), Alicia Jones (10), Mark Williams (11), Glenn Barry (12), Shari & Stephen Chadburn (13), Jennifer (Knwarraye) Niebour Pott (14), Aunty Mary Graham (15), Libby Harward (16), Aunty Maureen Newton (17), Glennys Briggs & Aunty Joyce Summers (18), Sylvester Cook (19), Rick Roser (20), Keisha Wortley (21), Ros Sawtell (22), Aunty Kathleen Lena (23)
Sewers: Aunty Maureen Newton, Glennys Briggs, Trisha Newton, Annie Woodcock, Jo-Anne Driessens
Ochre: Rick Roser

Gold Coast Drum Cloak

Gold Coast drum cloak

Artists: Jenny Fraser (1), Neville ‘Torry’ Torrisheba (2), Madeline Hodge (3), Community hands (4)
Sewer: Aunty Maureen Newton
Ochre: Rick Roser

Brisbane River Cloak

Brisbane River cloak

Artists: Melissa Stannard (1,5), Jordana Angus (2), Adam Sharah (3,8,12), Ailsa Walsh (4), Kim Ah Sam (6), Jason Murphy (7), Michael Connelly (9), Moss McGregor (10), Mandy Quadrio (11,17), Perry Mooney (13), Shelley Monroe (14), Joe Pegler (15,16), Dylan Mooney (18), Jeremy Anderson (19), Kevin Williams (20), Andrew Gall (20), Janelle Evans (21), Jacob Paulson (21)
Sewer: Carol McGregor
Ochre: Rick Roser


High resolution artworks and descriptions


State Library of Queensland would like to acknowledge our supporters:

  • Gubbi Gubbi/ Kabi Kabi workshops
    • Sunshine Coast City Council
    • Wiruungga Organisation
  • Wiruungga workshops
    • Artslink Queensland
    • Wiruungga Organisation
  • Gold Coast workshops
    • Gold Coast City Council
    • The Arts Centre Gold Coast
  • Brisbane workshops
    • Queensland Performing Arts Centre
    • Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art, Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art and Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research

Possums were traditionally used by Aboriginal people as a natural resource for a number of purposes, including material for clothing. Today possum species are protected in Australia, under the provision of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The possum skins used for this program were ethically sourced from New Zealand, where they are an introduced species and the culling of possums and overall treatment of the animal are regulated by the New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals.

This exhibition contains images and references to deceased people which may cause sadness or distress, particularly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

SLQ would be grateful to hear from any visitor with further information regarding historical images, research, or family histories with possum skin cloaks.

Historical references to Aboriginal people can be offensive. We have chosen not to sensor the documentary evidence and have used direct quotes which expose the terminology of the period with an attempt to educate viewers in the hope of moving forward.

The spelling of language, place names, traditional Country and references to communities are written and displayed as provided by the individual or community.


Blog posts

Be part of our possum skin revitalisation

Interview with Uncle Nurdon

Interview with Libby Conners

Possum skin workshop in Kenilworth

Introducing Freya Carmichael


Learning notes

To support The Art of the Skins exhibition, State Library has created learning notes with teaching and learning activities linked directly to the Australian Curriculum. These notes are designed to enhance your onsite experience.

Learning notes with teaching and learning activities

Header image: Brisbane River Cloak (detail), 2016, pictured artwork by Ailsa Walsh.