A new exhibition of contemporary and traditional objects, Manggan – gather, gathers, gathering was opened recently at the South Australia Museum in Adelaide.
“The Museum is learning how to be a custodian and working with the people from Girringun has made us re-think the way we want to work in the future,” Professor John Carty, Head of Anthropology, South Australia Museum said.
“It seems to me that the museum learnt more out of the process of working with Girringun than they did and we have gained insight into how we can do better exhibitions and displays from this experience.
“Not only do we have to take care of the collections at the museum but we need think about who decides what should be happening with them.
“We need to better engage with communities so that they have a say too and we are grateful to Girringun for being a generous partner in developing this exhibition.”
Dr Valerie Boll led negotiations with the South Australia Museum and travelled with Claude Beeron, Abe Muriata and Debra Murray in August to facilitate access to the material, the first time it has come out of collection storage in recent times.
“It was wonderful teamwork between the two organisations and it is a fantastic opportunity for the public to see rainforest work in a southern state,” Dr Boll said.
“This exhibition carried a positive message and demonstrates the diversity of the rainforest culture of Far North Queensland which is quite different to the rest of Australia.”
Girramay Elder Claude Beeron and Girringun artists Abe Muriata, Ninney Murray and Debra Murray attended the opening together with Curator Dr Valerie Boll of El Arish and Art Centre Manager Valerie Keenan.
“The South Australian Museum has one of the largest institutional collections of traditional objects from the Ingham, Tully and Rockingham Bay areas in Australia,” Valerie Keenan said.
“The objects were collected in the late 1800s and we were fortunate to be able to include very old objects borrowed from the collection in the exhibition.
“The beautiful old objects were augmented by contemporary works by artists working with the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre.
“Beautiful bicornual baskets by Abe Muriata, eel traps and baskets by Mrs Ninney Murray, two documentaries directed by Debra Murray, ceramics and weavings were included in the exhibition which was a certainly a gathering of mediums, ideas and forms.
“An artist program which included a talk by Abe Muriata and a weaving session with Mrs Ninney Murray was well attended in the exhibition space and forecourt of the Museum.”