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Packers Prize: Burundhang Gunhungurran (Night Rainbow) by Birrunga Wiradyuri

Burundhang Gunhungurran (Night Rainbow)​

Birrunga Wiradyuri​

2021 Packers Prize

Proudly supported by
Howard Smith Wharves
About the artwork and sitter

A Gungarri / Butchulla man, Zane Saunders is a multidisciplinary performer and artist. They first met in 2019, when Zane performed at Brisbane’s Judith Wright Arts Centre and they became close during the Australia Council’s national Custodianship Program in 2020.

 “The impact was profound. I began to be exposed to Zane’s deep commitment to inhabiting the role of Custodianship. He is a man of great integrity, softly spoken, deep consideration, social conscience and cultural congruence.”

Birrunga created Dark Rainbow after seeing Zane’s performance of the same name.

“The white is skin and the turquoise is ochre. This work portrays him as energy, it is as I see him. The area of the throat is absent of colour to denote Zane’s silence in his performances.”

About the artist

Wiradyuri man Birrunga Wiradyuri is the founder and principal artist of Birrunga Gallery & Dining in Brisbane. He is dedicated to following and practicing the central Wiradyuri law of Yindyamarra, “To do slowly; To be gentle; To honour; To be polite; To respect.”

Birrunga is a cultural practitioner and artist whose narrative works explore the spirituality of the Wiradyuri people, in historical and contemporary contexts.

Judge's Notes

This monumental work uses symbolism and technique to portray the depth of feeling the artist has for his sitter, Zane Saunders, an indigenous performance artist. 

The scale and composition combined with the use of contrasting fine lines to describe the form gives the impression of an imposing and profound fellow creative. 

The absence of colour around the throat references Zane’s silences during his spiritually charged performances. The use of a pin striped suit prompt questions of cultural context. 

This work was chosen by the staff and volunteers who unpacked and hung the exhibition. 

Anna Reynolds
Board Chair, Brisbane Portrait Prize

“This work portrays him as energy, it is as I see him. The area of the throat is absent of colour to denote Zane's silence in his performances.”

Behind the scenes

I hold Zane in the highest regard. This work is based on who Zane is to me and how I feel about him culturally, in his custodianship and as a creative.