By HARRY CLARKE
A STUNNING piece by renowned Indigenous artist Anthony “Boy” Turnbull is being raffled off as part of his home town’s NAIDOC week celebrations to raise money for a cause close to his heart.
Originally from Chinchilla but now based in Yeppoon, Turnbull’s recent hobby has been to find old surfboards on social media marketplaces and use them has canvases for his Aboriginal artwork.
“I like to dig up old boards that aren’t getting used any more, keep that age and authenticity on the back of it,” Turnbull said.
“I use paint stripper on the fibreglass to get it back to the raw material, leave it for a day or two, give it a light sand and then put a primer over it which gives it a good surface to paint on. Give it a couple of days and then a another light sand, then I can paint on it.”
This piece, titled Fishing By The Banks, tells the story two hunters trying to spear to yellow belly amongst the reeds while a woman digs for roots to put in her dili bag.
“Sometimes the painting doesn’t go quite to plan – I’ll chop and change it a bit and add things – but there’s always a story to it,” Turnbull said.
The artwork will be raffled off as part of Chinchilla’s NAIDOC Week celebrations running from July 3-10.
A full week of festivities has been organised by Turnbull’s Chinchilla-based daughter, Marion Mitchell, alongside Billie Brassington. For all the details on Chinchilla NAIDOC events visit their Facebook page.
Turnbull’s father and Mitchell’s grandfather, the late Tony Turnbull Snr, passed away last year after a battle with prostate cancer, so the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia has been chosen as the benefactor of the surfboard artwork raffle.
Asked where the people in the painting were fishing, Turnbull said: “Because it’s in memory of Dad, it would focus around where he grew up, so it would be part of that river system out there around Turtle Bend, which is down behind Toobeah”.
“That’s about ‘two beers’ from Goondiwindi, going west, about half an hour’s drive. That’s what he used to tell me all the time – Toobeah is about two beers from Gundy.
“Dad used to live in Toobeah – they weren’t allowed to live in the town itself. There were a few mob there, maybe about 50 or so. He told me they used to live down by the creek. I can’t remember the name of the creek, but I just know it as Turtle Bend.”
Tony Turnbull Snr was from the Bigambul tribe who are native to the Goondiwindi area.
Anthony “Boy” Turnbull said many Aboriginal folks followed their mother’s side of the family, which made him a Mithaka man whose ancestors are from the south western Birdsville, Bedourie and Windorah areas.
“I knew Dad had cancer but he didn’t tell me what sort of cancer, and I didn’t find out until after he passed away that it was prostate cancer,” Turnbull said.
“There are so many people who need support and I think Dad would be so proud and happy with the amount of people around Chinchilla who’ve got behind the cause.
“I thought, what better way to create awareness for prostate cancer and raise money for research than to donate a painting for NAIDOC Week.”