Menzies Art Brands



In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Bunjil the eagle is a creator deity and ancestral being. According to legend, after creating the rivers, mountains, plants, animals and laws for people to live by, Bunjil gathered his wives and sons and asked Crow, who controlled the winds, to open his bags and let out some wind. Crow opened a bag where he kept his whirlwinds, releasing a cyclone so fierce that trees were uprooted from their foundations. Bunjil asked Crow for an even stronger wind, and Crow complied. The ferocity of this whirlwind was so strong, Bunjil and his family were blown upwards into the sky. Bunjil became the star, Altair, and his two wives became stars on either side.

Melbourne sculptor Bruce Armstrong is highly regarded in Australias contemporary art scene his large-scale public works of art dominate Melbournes cityscape. The most well-known public sculpture of Armstrongs would undoubtedly be Bunjil, the seven-storey high, 25-tonne eagle that towers over the Docklands precinct. This much-loved Melbourne landmark was inspired by Bunjil, the eaglehawk regarded as the spirit creator of the Kulin nations which include the Wurundjeri people. The giant bird stands high above the streetscape, protecting the land which it created.

The WurundjeriWillam people of the Kulin nations are the Traditional Owners of the land that is now known as the City of Yarra. Their relationship with the land extends back tens of thousands of years to when their creator spirit Bunjil formed their people the land and all living things.1

The present work, Bunjil, created in 2003, stands at an impressive 2.2 metres high and is crafted from bronze and timber. Armstrongs monumental animal figures carved from natural timbers appeal on many levels - sight, touch and smell. Bunjil 2003 possesses the high standard of craftsmanship that is present in the best examples of Armstrongs large wooden works. Through his sculpture, the artist engages the viewer in a dialogue about mythology, the spiritual forces of nature and the relationship of sculpture to internal and external environments.


1.The City of Yarra, The Aboriginal History of Yarra, 28 August 2014, <>

Caroline Jones BA, MArtAdmin


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