Mountain to Mouth 2016 Announces Recipients of Major International Sculpture Commission

Mountain to Mouth - Geelong's 80km Extreme Arts Walk, has announced the recipients of its major sculpture commission in a special ceremony at Eastern Beach, Geelong.

Papua New Guinean artist, Leonard Tebegetu and Australian artist, Mahony Maia Kiely have been jointly awarded the commission. Together they will create Mountain to Mouth 2016's lead ephemeral artwork, Canoe - a vessel which will carry water from the ancient Rockwell at Big Rock, You Yangs, along the 80km journey to rejoin the ocean at Barwon Heads.

The commission, made possible by the Australia Council for the Arts, represents a significant cultural exchange that will enable a stronger dialogue and deeper understanding of Indigenous cultures in both Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Canoe artists Mahony Maia Kiely and Leonard Tebegetu with Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons and Wadawurrung Elder Uncle Bryon Powell at the Eastern Beach ceremony.

Canoe artists Mahony Maia Kiely and Leonard Tebegetu with Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons and Wadawurrung Elder Uncle Bryon Powell at the Eastern Beach ceremony.

Leonard Tebegetu is a sculptor and bamboo artist, who brings his culture and upbringing in Papua New Guinea, his experience of life on a small island, and his work as a globally operating contemporary artist to the role of Canoe Maker for Mountain to Mouth 2016. He lives in a land where the lines are blurred between traditional and contemporary culture, and the former can maintain its accessibility and resist being eroded by colonial forces over the past century through cultural and creative exchange. In 2015, he was head designer for the 35-person workshop that constructed props for the Pacific Games opening ceremony.

Wadawurrung Elder Uncle Bryon Powell smoking 2014 Canoe artist Benjamin Gilbert, Mountain to Mouth Artistic Director Meme McDonald, Mahony Maia Kiely, Leonard Tebegetu, Mayor Darryn Lyons and Manager of Arts and Culture Kaz Paton at the Eastern Beach ceremony.

Wadawurrung Elder Uncle Bryon Powell smoking 2014 Canoe artist Benjamin Gilbert, Mountain to Mouth Artistic Director Meme McDonald, Mahony Maia Kiely, Leonard Tebegetu, Mayor Darryn Lyons and Manager of Arts and Culture Kaz Paton at the Eastern Beach ceremony.

Mahony Maia Kiely is a community artist and sculptor who was previously involved in Mountain to Mouth in 2009 and 2014. She has worked in Australia and around the world over the past 25 years as an artistic director, choreographer, creative producer and performer. Mahony also worked on the 2015 Pacific Games Opening Ceremony, where she made a sea of lanterns with 1000 school children and teamed up with Leonard to create a giant Conch structure. It was here the collaborative relationship begun, which will continue in Mountain to Mouth 2016.

The burnt shell of Canoe from Mountain to Mouth 2014 by Benjamin Gilbert.

The burnt shell of Canoe from Mountain to Mouth 2014 by Benjamin Gilbert.

Leonard Tebegetu and Mahony Maia Kiely will work together over the next month to create Canoe - as well as undertake a series of workshops together for professional artists across the region. Both artists bring different skills to the process of building the bamboo and cane structure, and are looking forward to engaging in cultural and creative exchanges with local artists and Indigenous Elders.

Mountain to Mouth is Geelong's multi-award winning journey of discovery, an 80km walk over two days and 11 stages. Register now.