Award-winning Indigenous artists' first national touring exhibition premieres at MTQ

30 August 2017

The Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville, will be the first venue in an extensive national tour of Manggan – gather, gathers, gathering, a travelling exhibition of Queensland contemporary Indigenous art by award-winning artists from the Girringun Aboriginal Arts Centre in Cardwell, from Saturday 9 September 2017.

Queensland Premier and Minister for the Arts Annastacia Palaszczuk congratulated the Museum of Tropical Queensland for presenting this significant collaborative exhibition from the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, which features collection objects and historic photographs from the South Australian Museum.

“This touring exhibition is a wonderful celebration of Queensland indigenous art and includes works from 19 Indigenous artists, two of whom won awards at July’s Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF),” the Premier said.

“It is wonderful that Alison Murray, who was awarded CIAF’s Inaugural Emerging Artist Award, and Phillip Denham, awarded the 2017 Indigenous Art Centre Alliance Lucille Osborne Emerging Artist Memorial Fellowship Award, have been recognised at CIAF and also included in this unique exhibition.”

Queensland Museum Network Acting Director and CEO Alexander Hayward said Museum of Tropical Queensland was proud to showcase artists from the Girringun Aboriginal Arts Centre who had exhibited their works internationally but have never before participated in a national travelling exhibition.

“Displaying rare objects next to modern creations allows knowledge, stories and art from the Far North Queensland Wet Tropics to be shared with the broader community, presenting the diversity of this unique, vibrant and evolving rainforest culture.”

Honorary Research Associate at the South Australian Museum and curator of Manggan – gather, gathers, gathering Dr Valerie Boll said it was exciting to see this travelling exhibition open at Museum of Tropical Queensland after four years in development.

"Emerging from a rainforest canopy, Manggan - gather, gathers, gathering is a remarkable collaborative exhibition of contemporary artworks from the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre and historic collection material from the South Australian Museum,” Dr Boll said.

Girringun Aboriginal Arts Centre Manager Dr Valerie Keenan has guided the Arts Centre since it was established in 2008.

“Traditional culture is pivotal to the creativity of Traditional Owner artists in the Girringun region.  This exhibition not only demonstrates this creativity but also provides visible evidence of an evolution of objects from useful ones, such as tools, to those with a more aesthetic purpose,” Dr Keenan said.

“The contemporary objects are instilled with newer values which reflect aesthetic taste, authenticity, economic pressures and an element of nostalgia. Displayed side by side, the new and the old, the objects create a dialogue of contrast and of change.”

Mr Abe Muriata, a Girramay Traditional Owner, said the exhibition gives an insight into the rainforest culture of Far Northern Australia.

“I am a Girramay man, an artist and a weaver. I make Jawun, the bicornual basket. My work is a culmination of ten years’ learning and it has essentially been a re-learning of a nearly lost craft,” Mr Muriata said.

“One of my Jawun is included in this show. Beside the really beautiful Jawun which has been loaned from the South Australia Museum, my Jawun pales in comparison.

“Honed by thousands of years of craftsmanship, the old basket embodies the perfection of skill at the hand of the maker who learned their knowledge as a kind of apprenticeship.” 

Manggan – gather, gathers, gathering is a partnership between Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre and the South Australian Museum and is being toured by Museums & Galleries Queensland.

This exhibition is supported by the Visions regional touring program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to cultural material for all Australians. It is also supported through the Australian Government's Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program and the Queensland Government; and proudly sponsored by Conrad Gargett and Urban Art Projects.

Manggan – gather, gathers, gathering will be on display at the Museum of Tropical Queensland from 9 September until 26 November 2017.

From March 2018 to February 2021 it will tour to regional Queensland, Brisbane, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Visit www.mtq.qm.qld.gov.au for more details.

The Museum of Tropical Queensland, part of the Queensland Museum Network, is open from 9.30am - 5pm daily.

BACKGROUND

The Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, based in Cardwell, represents artists from nine Traditional Owner Groups, the Nywaigi, Gugu Badhun, Warrgamay, Warungnu, Bandjin, Girramay, Gulnay, Jirrbal and Djiru people.

The traditional country of these groups covers some 25,000 square kilometres of country from north of Townsville, south west to Clarke River, north to the Mission Beach area, west to Ravenshoe and east to include Hinchinbrook and the Family Group Islands.

More information: http://art.girringun.com.au