Tarutharu (the Skink)
Light Creatures Adelaide Zoo
In 2021, Adelaide Zoo presented the immersive event; Light Creatures in collaboration with Illuminate Adelaide and SA Power Networks. The four week night-time event welcomed thousands of visitors and shone a light on conservation and shared the story of the Kaurna skink, tarutharu.
Zoos SA, Illuminate Adelaide and lantern installation partners A Blanck Canvas wanted to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Adelaide Zoo site, involving the Kaurna community to bring to life a Kaurna creation story and highlight the significance of Tarutharu, otherwise known as the common skink.
We engaged with Jack Buckskin, a proud Kaurna and Narungga man with a passion for passing on his knowledge and language to future generations of Kaurna people (and others). Jack spent time speaking to Elders and gathering the information and story for this project.
We worked with Jack on how to best translate the story into artwork through a collaboration with contemporary Aboriginal visual artist Elizabeth Close. Elizabeth Yanyi Close is an Anangu woman from the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara language groups in Central Australia. Elizabeth brought the story of the skink to life through her designs which were handpainted onto the lantern by A Blanck Canvas artists.
Tarutharu will continue to feature as a major installation at Adelaide Zoo as part of the annual Illuminate Adelaide events and will potentially tour nationally and internationally with the A Blanck Canvas production team.