News and Events

Botanical Buzz - Aboriginal Artwork

Monday, September 22, 2014

An Aboriginal artwork by Wiradjuri man Aaron Towney at ShoyoenDubbo Regional Botanic Garden has helped strengthen the relationship between the Dubbo Aboriginal community and our Sister City Minokamo.

Aaron has developed a deep affinity for Shoyoen (the Japanese Garden) since becoming one of Dubbo City Council’s horticultural apprentices over three years ago.

After weeks of planning and research it took Aaron roughly two and a half hours to complete his design in the Japanese rock garden (karesansui) also known as the Zen Garden. The Zen Garden is Japan’s most distinctive and ancient type of garden. The deceptively simple and stark arrangement of rocks in a “sea” of white pebbles collectively forms a religious work of art reflecting the spiritual tenets of Zen Buddhism.

The visitor does not physically enter the Zen Garden but can use the garden as a meditative tool to seek clarity of thought and enlightenment. Whilst tending this garden, raking the pebbles and removing fallen leaves; Aaron felt inspired to share his personal journey towards re-connecting with his Aboriginal heritage.

Staying within the style of the garden, Aaron used coloured rocks and ancient Aboriginal symbology to depict a traditional Aboriginal family going about their daily activities. An Aboriginal woman searches for food with a digging stick whilst a father and his two sons hunt a kangaroo with spears.

The artwork is a deeply meaningful gesture of respect to his family and to the Zen Garden.

Although this artwork is his most complex and personal, it is not his first artwork in the Zen Garden. Aaron created an artwork depicting the Dreamtime Rainbow Serpent in honour of the visit by delegates from Minokamo during the twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations of the Sister City relationship between Minokamo and Dubbo. Photographs of the new artwork have been shared with officials in Japan. 

                                                                                                                                   By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan