By Ralph Roberts.
Stuart Monk makes handcrafted guitars at his studio in Heathcote, a southern suburb of Sydney, Australia.
Graham Toomey is a celebrated aboriginal artist.
When Stu decided to exhibit at the international guitar-makers festival in Paris, (the first Australian to do so), he recognised that not only was it an opportunity to showcase the playability of his instruments but he could also introduce a new audience to the world’s oldest living culture.
He asked renowned aboriginal artist Graham Toomey to incorporate one of his ancient artworks into the guitars design.
“My father, who was known as Scrubby Lamb was a musician” said Graham. “When Stuart asked me to work with him there was a really powerful connection with Stu and with my father. It’s not just a physical thing. It is very spiritual. I felt my dad’s presence and heard his music while I was painting the guitar.”
The Wiradjuri and Wongaibon people are Graham’s ancestors.
His artwork captures and symbolises the places, waterholes and tracks that connect them to their land in central western NSW
“The artwork also depicts the sacred places MY ancient people have been journeying to for thousands of years.”
“The orange and red background symbolises the earth. The brown and blue circles represent places and sacred sites. The little blue circles symbolise the waterholes.
Stuart’s guitar designs are also unique combining acoustic and electric features.
“It has both acoustic and electric sound modes or it can blend the two,” said Stuart.
Individually Stuart and Graham have produced extremely powerful artistic statements. Together they have created something of even greater importance.
“It’s not just a guitar. It’s about culture. It has brought people together.”
See our interview about this exciting international show here.