Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 17, 2012

We have a new elephant

We have a new elephant in front of the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.





The bronze sculpture by Michael Parekowhai was commissioned in 2011 to mark the 5th anniversary of the opening of GoMA in 2006 and 20 years of the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.

In “The World Turns”, Parekowhai casts a small native water rat, the kuril, in the role of hero. Along with the traditional Aboriginal custodians, the kuril is one of the caretakers of the land upon which the Gallery and this sculpture stand.

Traditional Elder Uncle Des Sandy tell how the kuril is intrinsically linked to the mangroves that weave around the Kurilpa Point shoreline, which feed it and provide it with shelter, and that the trees, with their strong tentacle like roots, are the source of nourishment for a diverse ecology.

I think it is amazing that mangroves survive so close to the city.



The huge fig tree in front of the gallery must do its bit to provide shelter, as well as some welcome shade for visitors.


The kuril is planted firmly on the ground, going about its business, even though it has shifted the world – represented by a large upturned elephant – from its axis.



The chair is an invitation to sit and contemplate the remarkable feat.

“The World Turns” is already popular with visitors to the gallery, particularly with children.





The local wildlife appears to be impressed as well. A family of lizards was gathered around the sculpture today.






Ibis have made a home close to the city as well.




It seems everyone loves our new elephant…when are you coming to see it?

“The World Turns” reminds us that history is often recorded to highlight specific moments, but as the world turns, there are many other stories – and these are central to our understanding of history.


  1. Reblogged this on carmillaweirdlove.

  2. I love this, Deb! Thanks for sharing!

    • The elephant is clearly a big hit already with locals.

  3. I have a real soft spot for elephants and I think they’re beautiful creatures. This one is so playfully cast-I love it! 😀

    • I wondered why the elephant was sideways until I read the plaque.

    • I wondered why the elephant was sideways until I read the plaque.

  4. This has put a smile on my face. Love the playfulness.

    • Children are enjoying the elephant. I wonder if that is what the artist had in mind.

  5. Excellent photos and I love the sculptures. When I saw the post title in my inbox, I thought you were being ironic – but it really is an elephant! 😉

    • It is a great addition to the gallery area.

  6. I haven’t been over to see this yet, thanks for the preview!! It is amazing that our river still has mangroves right in the middle of the city.

    • Have you done the mangrove walk near the botanical gardens? There is a path right through the middle of the mangrove area.

  7. Great post, I love seeing the children playing on the sculpture!

    • What a great way to help them appreciate sculpture.

      • A lesson without instruction!

  8. Oh I would love to see your elephant. What a wonderful sculpture, and I love the story that accompanies it (otherwise one would wonder why the elephant is upside down). Love also the pics of kids on the elephant and the ibis keeping an eye on it all… wonderful post as always.

    • I wondered too about the position of the elephant. Fortunately the plaque explains everything.

  9. What a creative design of the sculptures!

    • I think the elephant is going to be very popular.

  10. Beautiful sculptures!!! Beautiful shots!!!

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