New artwork welcomes visitors to Brisbane Airport

Delvene 1

Travellers entering Brisbane Airport’s International Terminal will first encounter an artwork crafted by First Nations designer Delvene Cockatoo-Collins. 

Titled “Land, Sea and Sky”, the artwork is situated prominently at the entry to the terminal, serving as a testament to the rich cultural legacy of Australia’s First Peoples.  

The bespoke piece binds together the ancient and modern history of the land on which Brisbane Airport is located. 

Delvene is a respected artist who has an extensive collection of work including ceramics, sculptures, original artworks and her design that featured on the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games medals. Based on Quandamooka country in Minjerribah, Delvene frequently travels through Brisbane Airport and is excited to have her artwork visible at the terminal and share her message. 

To immerse herself in the history of the site, Delvene explored Brisbane Airport’s 285-hectare biodiversity zone, gathering bark, leaves and grass as well as rusted remnants of the settlement of Cribb Island, which existed from 1863-1981. 

“Seeing the biodiversity zone, for me the most surprising part was how much it looked like everywhere else around the bay and that it’s still part of the airport. There’s still this amazing space that looks like it would 100, 200, 300 years ago,” Delvene shared.  

In April, Delvene featured as an Artist in Residence at the International Terminal which allowed people to watch the artwork being created and connect with Delvene. 

“The thing that I didn’t anticipate happening while doing the Artist in Residence was to meet people and find a connection with them. For me it shows that if you dig deep enough there will be some form of understanding of each other.” 

The artwork will stand as a permanent testament to the enduring legacy of Indigenous culture, inviting visitors from across the globe to experience and embrace Australia's vibrant heritage. 

Brisbane Airport is located on the shores of Moreton Bay, with lagoons, swamps and estuarine creeks providing a rich source of food resources for Traditional Owners before European settlement. 

Brisbane Airport Chief Executive Officer Gert-Jan de Graaff attended the unveiling of the new-look terminal entry. 

“The land on which Brisbane Airport now stands has considerable cultural and spiritual significance to the Traditional Owners and the display of this artwork is just one way we honour this. 

“More people will pass by Delvene’s artwork than any other piece of art in any gallery in Queensland. Just these school holidays, one million people will travel through our International Terminal and we are delighted to have this piece located at the entrance to our terminal, so it has the prominence it deserves.”   

Land, Sea & Sky, 2023

Land, Sea and Sky shares a deeper connection with the Country where Brisbane Airport is located. Through a series of patterns, the artwork maps the land, sea and sky to speak of history, nature, connections and movement. 

The top of the artwork in the base layer includes an added element of hand painted copper for the afternoon sun in the west.

Depicted in white at the lower part of the artwork, are long wavy patterns showing the rhythm and movement of the tide on the biodiversity site. Moreton Bay, including Quandamooka Country, is home to the artist, located east of the airport site.

The swirling patterns, mapped above the water on the artwork, and to the right of the river, are representative of the movement of people to and from the airport site. Like air currents, bringing people home or taking them on their next holiday. Or welcoming first-time arrivals. In the residency, the artist spent time airside and experienced standing in the flight path as a plane was coming into land - the patterns show this swift and strong air movement. 

The large woven net pattern is the connections formed with one another at this site. During the residency at the International Terminal, the artwork was set up and the artist available to speak with those who were getting ready to leave the country. Connections were formed because of this welcoming space. On a separate visit in the arrivals area, the artist witnessed the reconnection of families as they emerged. It reinforced the idea of connections in this space.

Brigalow spears shown in long brown lines, formed an important object of trading between the people across the south east. The artist's people from Quandamooka Country traded shell and reed necklaces for Brigalow Spears. The Brigalow Spears in this artwork, represent the Country around the airport - particularly to the west of this site and because of those old trading pathways, highlight the relationships between the Aboriginal people across the south east.

The many layers of history, use and movement on the airport site is reflected through this work in the patterns and colours. These continue to be visible and felt - particularly when arriving or leaving this space. To take notice of those around and to see the Country, the land sea and sky which has been taken care of for thousands of years, and continues to be cared for.

To view a video of the artworks creation, click here 

Images are available for download here. 

For more information contact Brisbane Airport’s 24/7 media hotline: 0466 322 485