Bana Mundu (Water is a Spirit)

About Bana Mundu

The TNQ Drought Hub commisioned Bana Mundu in collaboration with Cairns artist and cultural practitioner, Bernard Lee Singleton. 

The term ‘drought’ is not commonly used in Far North Queensland remote communities, so the piece represents the ever-changing patterns of Country and explores the concept of drought through key themes.

From the Artist's perspective

“Our seasons are either not enough or have an excess of water. They are the forever-changing patterns of Country on which our life source depends.

In creation time, they were given to us by our ‘water brothers’. They teach us how, when and what to hunt – and how and where we live. Understanding these old people’s teachings is to have a true connection with the land.

We must choose to listen to Country to care for it, as it has cared for our ancestors and us. As climate changes, our practices must change, but we must always keep Country at our core. Therefore the saying rings true “to stay grounded.’”

Bernard Lee Singleton

Bana Mundu (Water is a Spirit) by Bernard Lee Singleton with Saltwater People

All usage of this artwork requires prior permission. Please contact the TNQ Drought Hub at for inquiries and licensing requests.

Artwork Themes


Water is essential for life; having cultural, social, environmental and economic value to Indigenous communities.


In the North, communities live with deep wet and dry seasons. A failed or delayed wet can have significant impacts for communities.

Traditional Knowledge

Indigenous people have lived on the driest inhabited continent on Earth for over 65,000 years and have adapted to droughts and floods, through resilience and a deep knowledge of country.

Indigenous Perspectives on Environmental Impacts

Indigenous perspectives of the cultural, spiritual, social and environmental impacts of increased water insecurity, changing patterns and extreme weather events.

About the Artist

“I paint, craft and make artefacts to ground myself. Through the process of making a spear or shaping the figure of a spirit, I connect with my ancestors and they help bring my work to life. My work is a way for me to acknowledge and remember the times of my great-grandmothers and great- grandfathers. My designs are inspired by the laws of nature and the forms found in the creation stories around me. Using these basic forms or designs, I work to represent the bond of art and the continuation of culture.”

Bernard Lee Singleton is an accomplished craftsman, curator and designer, born and living in Cairns. Singleton grew up in Coen, Cape York. His mother is a Djabuguy woman born in Mona Mona mission near Kuranda and his father is an Umpila (east coast Cape York)/Yirrkandji man from Yarrabah mission.

Bernard Lee Singleton
The first showing of Bana Mundu
L-R: Unveiling of Bana Mundu with artist, Bernard Lee Singleton, Bernard Lee Singleton Senior and hub Director David Phelps
Media Releases

TNQ Drought Hub unveils new artwork collaboration with local Indigenous artist

TNQ Drought Hub unveils new artwork collaboration with local Indigenous artist Previous Next The TNQ Drought Hub has unveiled a new artwork as part of their way to acknowledge and pay respects to Indigenous knowledge, created in collaboration with Cairns artist and cultural practitioner, Bernard Lee Singleton. The artwork, entitled Bana Mundu (Water is a Spirit), was launched at today’s Queensland Connects Disaster Resilience Workshop, which brings together key rural and regional stakeholders to discuss opportunities for building community resilience in the face of flood and drought. Mr Singleton, who is an accomplished craftsman, curator and designer, said the

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