Behind the Scenes with the 'KURANDA STORY MURAL'

My 'Kuranda Story Mural' masterpiece is one of the largest works I have been commissioned to paint, taking approx. 400 hours, (spread over 12 months) to complete!

You can find elements this incredible mural including Australian birds, butterflies and rainforest wildlife featuring on my Apparel Essentials collection and stretched canvas prints.

My local friend and moth expert Buck Richardson helped me get many of the files ready for print as my photoshop skills are limited! I am forever grateful as here, along with connecting with my T-shirt printer thanx to my friend Billy, began the journey and dream of finally re-producing my artworks! 

Our local Kuranda Paper published a cover story covering the work (February 2019), transcript below.

KURANDA STORY MURAL: Art from the Heart

Kuranda Story featuring Imogen ONeil_Art of ION

The Kuranda Paper, February (2019).


The Story Within…
When local artist, Imogen O’Neil, was commissioned to create a mural with a fresh, authentic take on 'Kuranda heritage' for the Heritage Markets, she wondered how to tell a story which honoured the place that has been her home since she was a baby. To tell that story while paying respect to all who call it home; the Traditional Owners, the waves of newcomers and settlers, the very spirit of this Place. Time passing through it, and it through time, all that interconnects. Imogen describes the process behind her work:

“There are nearly 400 hours in this piece. Spread over about one year! It is acrylic on ply, 60cm deep and 20.3 metres long!! Epic scale when I found myself with a 3mm brush, caught in detail due to narrow depth, but sometimes there are no shortcuts! I am so grateful to Adrian and Melissa Pancirov for the opportunity of this commission and their patience! I began painting in the East with the sunrise and worked Westward. Story of a day, a tourists journey up the range, changes in geography, time past and present.

How to portray not only the trials of the first white settlers who opened the place to the multi-cultural one it is today, but also respect to the Bama (people) who were here long before us. With some knowledge of what they endured through that period, at one point it felt like a can of worms I was reluctant to open. Art is also about beauty and healing, so I began with the pelicans, thinking I’d just stick to the incredible fauna and flora of the place, but that was not enough.

A conversation with a local Elder reminded me that the Dreamtime was not 'once upon a time', but that the spirit, ‘Bulurru’, is alive within the land, today, always.

Here came the idea of an Amethystine Python, rainbow light reflecting off its skin, winding throughout the whole piece! I recognised that I feel safe and held in this land and can paint from my heart without cultural appropriation.

Here I broke through my first huge 'block'. With his Mothers blessing, I painted our dear JJ, his spirit flown with the didj into the rising sun. He represents all our young ones, the tragedy of those we’ve lost, yet also a prayer that our young ones, and all of us, feel connected and clear enough to honour life and thrive amidst its challenges.

Here lies the tail of the serpent, all is in continuum.

The iconic Birdwing and Ulysses Butterflies fly atop the Great Dividing Range. Alongside the bullock train, days of old, winds the snake, unbroken. Kookaburra laughs up the morning, observing all! His mate flies across the rainbow mists of Din Din, Barron Falls, where the old mans face watches the eons. Here is the train we all recognise, but it has a steam engine. Crab claw gingers and the powerful Cassowary, Bundara. The blue quondongs, one of its food sources. The Barron River, lifeline of the land, has wound back around and an old warrior man hunts Black Bream and Turtles, a Wompoo Pidgeon above.

Looking over the river we cross the infinity of time to the present, where women and children fish with a hand line. The mighty Sea Eagle flies up river and the White Cockatoos keep a lookout over all. Perspective ebbs and flows; we come into the market scene which is to be the home of the actual painting.

I could only represent a few of the amazing Kuranda folk I love, but you are many! At the top of the stairs is our dear mate Slim, Didjr Didjrr, gone to the light where I imagine him to have finally met his fairy princess. Perhaps it is me at the bottom of the stairs, yet to ascend them, giving my prayers along with this artwork, 'twas the final space to fill at the end of such an epic painting journey!

The Bush Turkey ‘wawun’ scoots by and Kingfishers fly above. The sign, KURANDA!! Or ‘Ngunbay’. May it remain a beautiful sanctuary, village in the rainforest, which like everything, must grow, but hopefully with respect to what has always been here.

Finally I needed to pull the geography rapidly into the drier country encountered just west of Kuranda! Cicadas, Wattle, a Jacaranda, Kangaroos. The setting sun, lighting the head of our rainbowed Serpent, and held at the end by the female Black Cockatoo, heralding the rains that will soon come again to drench the parched land and keep the Rain-forest being just that.

May this painting bring peace, joy and respect for this beautiful place we are privileged to call home, to all who gaze upon it!”

Different segments of this piece are available on:

- Unisex T-Shirts

- Cushion Covers

- Stretched Canvas Prints

- Wall Hangings/ Tapestries

- Prints on Paper, Cards, Coolers.

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