Scott 'Sauce' Towney's Emu in the Sky features on coin as he reflects on art career

UNEXPECTED: Peak Hill Wiradjuri artist Scott
UNEXPECTED: Peak Hill Wiradjuri artist Scott "Sauce" Towney never thought his artwork would one day appear on an exclusive collectible coin from the Royal Australian Mint. Photo: Christine Little

He's loved art ever since he can remember and he's become a very successful artist.

But never would Scott "Sauce" Towney have ever imagined his artwork - the Emu in the Sky constellation - would appear on an exclusive collectible coin from the Royal Australian Mint.

Nor would he have ever thought his work would feature in half the places it has over the years.

The Parkes Champion Post had a chance to catch up with the Peak Hill and Wiradjuri artist as he reflected on his achievements.

Sauce, as he is more fondly known, specialises in drawing, carvings and pyrography (wood burning) creating art from an Indigenous perspective.

He experiments with a variety of materials as a base for his contemporary style and has made a major contribution in the community by creating artwork that helps preserve the culture and symbols of the Wiradjuri nation.

It was the time he spent on projects with fellow artist from Parkes Sean James Cassidy that led him down this path.

"He suggested I get into Aboriginal mark making, like carvings with Wiradjuri patterns," Sauce said.

"But contemporary style, so keeping that Wiradjuri pattern but not copying them, modernising them.

"That opened a lot of doors for me."

In 2016 cultural astronomer and then-Big Skies collaborator Trevor Leaman from Orange spotted Sauce's work on the internet and commissioned him, through Arts OutWest, to create a set of 13 graphic representations of Wiradjuri Murriyang, the Wiradjuri Skyworld, as part of a Wiradjuri Cultural Astronomy Project.

Indigenous Australians were the first astronomers and have been using the stars as navigation maps, calendars and to tell stories for tens of thousands of years.

One of the most widespread Aboriginal constellations across Australia is the great Emu in the Sky.

"That emu would be guaranteed to be in every single clan, not just Wiradjuri because it's so significant," Sauce said.

"It tells you where food is, what to do, it tells you everything.

"Trevor did all the research - I joined the dots, the stars, it was like a map of the stars."

Sauce's Wiradjuri Murriyang images were framed and exhibited at the Skywriters Project's first Big Gigin in Parkes Shire Council's Coventry Room in 2017, where they remained on the wall for the Central West Astronomical Society's Astrofest the following weekend.

During the opening of the Skywriters exhibition, Trevor announced he had been in touch with the Australian Mint and that the emu would be appearing on a coin, unbeknownst to Sauce.

Sauce said it was a very exciting time for him.

RELEASE: The Australian Mint launched its Star Dreaming series in May 2020 with the release of Sauce's Emu in the Sky $1 silver uncirculated coin. It depicts the Celestial Emu whose shape can be seen in the Milky Way.

RELEASE: The Australian Mint launched its Star Dreaming series in May 2020 with the release of Sauce's Emu in the Sky $1 silver uncirculated coin. It depicts the Celestial Emu whose shape can be seen in the Milky Way.

The Australian Mint launched its Star Dreaming series in May 2020 with the release of Sauce's Emu in the Sky $1 silver uncirculated coin.

The coin depicts the Celestial Emu whose shape can be seen in the Milky Way.

Parkes Shire Council purchased the coin last year to include its memorabilia collection.

"I was told they sold out pretty quickly," Sauce said.

"I'm humbled, in all the years of trial and error it's great to see all the rewards, it's a huge passion of mine.

"That emu has given me so many miles... [And] that coin is probably the biggest gig for me so far.

"My nan told me awesome stories when I was very little, I can't remember many of them anymore but that Emu in the Sky was the main one.

"And look now, it's come back all those years later."

HUMBLED: Peak Hill Wiradjuri artist Scott "Sauce" Towney said he was very humbled when he heard his Emu in the Sky artwork was going to appear on a $1 silver coin. Photo: Christine Little

HUMBLED: Peak Hill Wiradjuri artist Scott "Sauce" Towney said he was very humbled when he heard his Emu in the Sky artwork was going to appear on a $1 silver coin. Photo: Christine Little

Sauce's Wiradjuri Skyworld images are also installed as public art on the Community Cultural Wall in the main street of Peak Hill and his Emu is on a sculpture pole by Lake Forbes.

His art has been incorporated into the Stellarium planetarium software, enabling users around the world to see the movements of the stars from a Wiradjuri perspective, as well as into the Australian National Curriculum for the Year 7/8 module on digital technology and managing Indigenous astronomical knowledge.

"These are all snippets of the artwork constellations I've done," he said.

"That was another spinner (the school curriculum)! It's fantastic."

And he has wood carvings that feature at Rosedurnate Aged Care Centre and the Parkes Rotary Peace Precinct, murals in local schools and the National Library of Australia is publishing a book with his artwork.

He has also been a finalist in the NSW Premier's Indigenous Art Awards.

"It all starts with a picture in your head - it's like a game of chess, you have to think a few moves ahead before you start," Sauce said.

He wanted to especially thank Sean James Cassidy and council for all of their support through the many different jobs they have given him, and to Trevor for all of his work.