Miss Australia visits Girringun

Miss Australia at Girringun 2016

Local girl Madeline Cowe, currently Miss World Australia, visited the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre recently.
Crowned Miss World Australia last July and runner up for Miss Universe in 2015 Madeline returned home briefly in between official Miss Australia engagements.
Madeline grew up in Murray Upper on a cane and cattle farm, just to the south of Tully.
“I feels very lucky to be able to grow up in the country side, surrounded by nice and friendly people,” Madeline said.
‘I grew up here in a region very close to my heart.
“One of my best memories is going swimming at the Murray Falls.
“I attended the Murray Upper School and have fond memories, especially learning about Aboriginal culture and songs in the local dialect.”

Emily Murray with Miss Australia Madeline Cowe at Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre in Cardwell

Emily Murray with Miss Australia Madeline Cowe at Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre in Cardwell

Madeline and her mum Sue, joined the Girringun artists for morning tea and for a casual chat.
The purpose of her visit was to choose an artwork to take to the Miss World International Pageant in Washington DC in December.
“Gifts from all the countries represented will be taken to the pageant by the competitors, Madeline said.
“Five of these gifts will be chosen, displayed on stage and auctioned for worldwide children charities during a gala.
“Australia is a new country in terms of white settlement but the Indigenous culture is so old.
“A gift coming from the artists working with the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre will so well represent Australia.
“I know it will be a hard competition in the US.
“So far, winning my Miss World Australia title is my biggest accomplishment.
“I worked so hard for it and have wanted to do it for such a long time.”

When she was very young, Madeline had no idea what she wanted to aspire to but later decided to study law, with child protection as a specific focus.
“I want to help, to make a difference.
“In remote and rural areas people can’t access such services.
“If you can make life better it is worth it.
“I’m a country girl.
“I can show where I came from and which opportunities I have had.
“I hope younger people will be inspired.’

Madeline’s dream wasn’t to be a model, but it was always in the back of her mind.
One day, ‘OZ next top model’ came to Townsville; she registered, got selected and moved to the next round.
She moved to Sydney for 2 months, started modelling and also began taking part in pageants.
“That’s how I got crowned Miss World Australia,” tells Madeline.
“Modelling is just showing clothes but with pageants you are able to be yourself and relay a message to the public.
“It is more fulfilling.
“It took a lot of dedication and I’m learning so much.
“It is the experience of a lifetime.’

“As Miss World Australia,” Madeline told us, “we visited Aboriginal communities with the Variety Children Charity.
“I went to Elcho Island, in Arnhem Land NT and the community was given a school bus for children with special needs.
The Murray Upper School will also benefit as Madeline will be providing a series of books, part of ‘The Honey Ant Readers’.
These are a series of learn-to-read books with complementary resources, developed for Australian Indigenous learners with traditional Elders, to make literacy learning relevant, meaningful, engaging and fun, using traditional language.

Abe Muriata – Jawun Abe Muriata - weaver of Jawun

Girramay Tradional Owner and weaver Abe Muriata featured in a national online craft magazine recently.

An amazing artist and weaver, Abe has had his work acquired by a number of major collections including the British Museum, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the Qld Art Gallery, the University of Qld Art Museum and others.

To read the article go to:


Photo:  Abe Muriata with painted Jawun for British Museum. Photo Girringun Aboriginal Corporation


Bagu with Jiman Bagu with Jiman, the documentary

Tune into NITV tonight, Tuesday September 13th @ 7 pm, to view Bagu with Jiman, a home grown local documentary being screened as part of the NITV Our Stories Our Way series. Directed by Girramay Traditional Owner and artist Debra Murray, the documentary charts the importance of the Bagu with Jiman fire maker as a traditional cultural object to a contemporary art form. Debra has previously directed documentary but this is her broadcast directorial debut. This initiative gives emerging Indigenous filmmakers the opportunity to continue to develop their skills. Working with local producer Jan Cattoni and camera operator Daniel Marolla, and supported by the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre, the documentary is fully conceived and produced in the north. Show casing the beautiful Murray Upper region (between Tully and Cardwell) it features Girramay Elder Claude Beeron, Gulnay Traditional Owner Clarence Kinjun and Jirrbal Traditional Owner Emily Murray.  Make sure you don’t miss this  opportunity to enjoy the finished work.

Debra Murray and Dan Marolla on location beside the Bagu on the Foreshore in Cardwell

Debra Murray and Dan Marolla on location beside the Bagu on the Foreshore in Cardwell.  Photo Jan Cattoni


Alison Murray in National Indigenous Ceramic Awards 2016 Alison Murray with two of the 10 bagu she completed for the 2016 National Indigenous Ceramic Art Awards. Photo Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre

Alison Murray is one of seven artists/artist groups nationally who were shortlisted for this year’s National Indigenous Ceramic Art Awards held annually in Shepparton every year.

Represented by the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre Alison travelled to Shepparton last Saturday night with Art Centre Manager Dr Valerie Keenan for the awards ceremony.

Alison met with other artists who were included in the exhibition and attended a number of masterclasses and panel sessions during her visit.

“My visit to Shepparton was exciting,” Alison said.

“Before I went I was really looking forward to see how the bagu were being presented because we were using a different hanging system.

Once I saw them I thought they were very well displayed and fitted inw ell with the six other displays in the exhibition.”

The major prize was awarded to Shepparton based Gallery Kaiela artists Jack Anselmi and Cynthia Hardiw with a large floor installed ceramic, raku, porcelain and terracotta ‘Midden’.

This is not the first time Girringun artists have been represented in the art prize with a group of artists included in the 2011 exhibition which later toured to the Flinders University Gallery in Adelaide.  The artists at that event were Maureen Beeron, Sally Murray, Trish Beeron and Eileen Tep.

“Inclusion in an exhibition of this calibre clearly demonstrates the creativity and talents of all the artists who work at the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre and particularly, in this case, of Alison Murray,” Girringun Art Cemtre Manager Valerie Keenan said.

“Other examples of her sculptural works were most recently showcased at the Salon des Refuses with a trio of Bagu in Darwin and earlier this year with a large sculpture included in an outdoor installation which is currently on display in Monaco, Valerie Keenan said.

Alison is one of two Queensland artists included in current exhibition in Shepparton.

Artists were invited to submit proposals for the Shepparton awards so Alison decided to create works which reflected on members of her immediate family to create 10 figurative artworks.

Once the proposal was accepted she then had a relatively short time frame to create the works in time for shipment to Shepparton in July.

Her attention to detail, understanding of colour balance and pattern making have resulted in a collection of beautifully defined and rendered works, each a masterpiece in itself.

Alison is a quiet achiever and deserves every accolade which comes her way.”

Alison Murray with two of the 10 bagu she completed for the 2016 National Indigenous Ceramic Art Awards.  Photo Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre

Alison Murray with some of the 10 bagu she completed for the 2016 National Indigenous Ceramic Art Awards. Photo V Keenan Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre

Queensland Governor visits Girringun

 The Governor Visits Girringun

The Governor of Queensland Her Excellency Penelope Wensley met the Bagu on the Foreshore artists Charlotte Beeron and Eileen Tep in February in Cardwell. She was very impressed by the large works and promised to let everyone know about the great artworks which originate in the Girringun region as she travels around the world. Girramay Elder Claude Beeron welcomed the Governor on country. Together with the CCRC Mayor Bill Shannon, Ms Wensley later visited the Girringun offices and was introduced to all available staff and shown around the premises. Claude presented Ms Wensley with a small Bagu with Jiman made by Charlotte Beeron and she promised to compare notes with Prince William who was presented with a Bagu with Jiman after Cyclone Yasi.


Bagu on foreshore, Cardwell: Eileen Tep, Charlotte Beeron, Her Excellency Governor of Queensland Penelope Wensley & Girrimay Elder Claude Beeron.

Visit to the University of Queensland

  Visit to the University of Queensland

A day was spent with Dr Sally Butler at the University of Queensland where we talked about our ongoing relationship to support interns at Girringun and met our next intern Lucy Hancock MA who spent March and April at Girringun. We also spent some time viewing the Exotic Lies Sacred Ties exhibition by Dani Mellor who has worked with Ernie Grant, a Jirrbal Traditional Owner, from this area. Sally presented several of the exhibition books to Abe and Emily and for the art centre. One of Tonya Grant’s jawun is included in one of Dani’s works. We then adjourned to a pre-arranged visit to the anthropological museum to look at their collection of baskets from our area and were taken into the storage area to view rainforest shields and cross boomerangs.

Anthropological Museum at the University of Queensland looking through the collection of traditional baskets: Abe Muriata & Emily Murray

John’s Stories

The exhibition John’s Stories by John Murray is a combination of work based on personal experiences and traditional story telling. A series of on-on-one story telling sessions with Elders of the Girramay and Jirrbal peoples has provided inspiration for this exhibition. The stories, handed down from the wiggy (old people) are steeped in Aboriginal culture and mythology and are significant to Girramay and Jirrbal country. The Elders and family members worked with John to help him learn about and understand traditional stories which he has translated in his very particular pictorial style.
John is a Girramay Traditional Owner and is thirty years of age. John is physically disadvantaged and has found a focused way to communicate with the world through painting and ceramics.
He began his creative journey in 2008 attending workshops at the Girringun Aboriginal Art Centre and very quickly began to express his life experiences through visual representation. John’s bright and naively direct work brings to life the pleasure he takes in fishing, camping and living within a rainforest environment. His work presents visual imagery of camping trips, places he has lived at or visited, the Bathurst car races (which he loves) and more.. John’s Stories was first exhibited in 2010 as part of the KickArts Hatch Program supported by Arts Queensland Industry Initiatives.
His work has been Selected to tour Queensland in 2012, a regional tour will further bolster the John Murray’s confidence and pride, reflecting positively again on Girringun’s supportive role in developing artists’ careers.
Art Work by John Murray 2009John Murray at Murray Falls workshop 2011Canopy Art Exhitibition 2010John Murray with his Map to Kyambul 2011