Wiradjuri Constellation Art

In 2016 cultural astronomer and then-Big Skies Collaborator Trevor Leaman commissioned Wiradjuri artist Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney, from Peak Hill, through our partner organisation, Arts OutWest, to create a set of graphic representations of Wiradjuri Murriyang, the Wiradjuri Skyworld, as part of his Wiradjuri Cultural Astronomy Project.

Commissioning Wiradjuri Murriyang: Peak Hill artist Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney (standing) discusses the project with cultural astronomer Trevor Leaman (centre) flanked by artist Christine McMillan and Wiradjuri filmmaker Dave Towney in a Peak Hill cafe in 2016.

The commission was supported by Local Land Services Central Tablelands, and Arts OutWest through funding from the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, as part of our Big Skies Collaboration.

Wiradjuri Murriyang is where Baiame, the great creator lives. Scott based the images on his own cultural interpretation of the Wiradjuri constellations as described in archival narratives researched by Trevor Leaman. Trevor has placed the constellation artworks in the Murriyang in relation to these narratives. Wiradjuri patterns and mark-making in the work are contemporary. Scott does not copy original carvings, or dendroglyphs (see below) because these are linked to Ceremony. Instead, he uses these traditional patterns as guides for his own contemporary graphics work.

Scott Towney’s Wiradjuri Murriyang images can now be viewed all over the world. See, for example, cultural astronomer Duane Hamacher’s article, ‘Kindred skies: ancient Greeks and Aboriginal Australians saw constellations in common‘, in The Conversation, 10 April 2017, which also draws on Trevor’s Leaman’s research.


Wiradjuri Study Centre, Condobolin, NSW, hosted an exhibition of Scott’s images for the first Condo SkyFest,  9/10 November 2018.

Condo SkyFest coordinator, Tennille Dunn, supervises the hanging of Scott Towney’s Wiradjuri Skyworld exhibition at the Wiradjuri Study Centre, Condobolin, November 2018.
The artist’s floor talk at the Condo SkyFest opening.
Scott Towney’s Wiradjuri Skyworld images are now installed on the Community Cultural Wall in the main street of his hometown, Peak Hill, thanks to Parkes Shire Council.

The full set of constellation images were exhibited in public for the first time as a Stellarium projection, part of Christine McMillan‘s Dome Project, at the Cementa Biennial Festival of Contemporary Art in Kandos, NSW, in April 2017.

Scott Towney’s Wiradjuri Murriyang installation at Cementa2017 was driven by Stellarium, a free planetarium program installed on a laptop inside the Kandos community hall, April 2017.
Audience observing the Wiradjuri constellations rising and setting inside the blow-up planetarium dome at Cementa2017.

The Wiradjuri Murriyang images were later framed and exhibited at the Skywriters Project‘s first Big Gig in Parkes Shire Council’s Coventry Room, 8-9  July 2017. They remained on the wall for the Central West Astronomical Society’s Astrofest the following weekend. This was the first of what we hope will be many such exhibitions of this culturally important collection.

Artist Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney in a contemplative mood at his  Parkes Exhibition, July 2017.
Cultural astronomer Trevor Leaman explains the astronomical significance of the images at the Parkes exhibition and recounts some of the traditional Wiradjuri star stories he has recovered through his research. This exhibition was especially important to the many Wiradjuri people who attended it.
WIN TV News cameraman interviews Trevor Leaman about his research and the significance of Scott Towney’s artworks. The TV vision was broadcasted on WIN Central West’s local news on 10 July, 2017.

Images include:
Mulayndynang, or The Seven Sisters, the star cluster also known as the Pleiades
Biame, The Great Creator, also known as Orion
Wawi, The Rainbow Serpent, the formation also known as the Milky Way, which also represents the celestial river
Gugurmin, The Celestial Emu, the dark space in the Milky Way
Guggaa, The Tree Goanna, also known as Scorpius
Guguburra, The Kookaburra, or Corona Australis
Waagan, The Crow, or Canopus
Mouyi, The Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, also known as The Southern Pointers, or Alpha and Beta Centauri, which guide our eyes to the constellation Crux (Southern Cross)
Maliyan, The Wedge-Tailed Eagle, or the constellation Aquila, the Latin word for Eagle
Maliyan Nngubaanbukarr, The Wife of Maliyan, or the constellation Lyra
Maliyan Wollai, The Eagles’ Nest, or Corona Borealis
Yarran-Do, the Yarran Tree, or Crux, the Southern Cross

Wiradjuri visitors from Condobolin at the Parkes exhibition: Faith Richards, Tanya Atkinson and Janine Richards, with Rebecca Shepherd (Condobolin), Ellie Gilbert (Canberra) and Merrill Findlay (Forbes), July 2017.
ANU Astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker and Parkes writer Lyn Everingham at the Central West Astronomical Society’s Astrofest in Parkes, 15 July 2017, with the Wiradjuri Murriyang images.
Astronomer and astrophotographer Dr David Malin admires Scott Towney’s representation of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades star cluster at the Parkes Astrofest exhibition, 15 July 2017.

Constellation Artist: Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney

All but one of the photos on this page by Merrill Findlay for Big Skies Collaboration.

We would like to acknowledge all Wiradjuri Elders, both past and present, for their knowledge and wisdom through the ages, and for passing this knowledge on to future generations.

This project was supported by grants from the Central Tablelands Local Lands Services (NSW) and Regional Arts Fund (Regional Arts NSW), with in-kind support from Western Sydney University Observatory team, which provided the dome for the Cementa installation; Parkes Shire Council, which made the Coventry Room available for the Parkes exhibition; Arts OutWest, which auspiced the RAF funding and hung the Parkes exhibition; and many other groups and individuals who gave their support when it was needed. Thank you.


Page restored 2 August 2017. Last updated 14 February 2019 when Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney’s artworks were removed at the artist’s request.

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